I created Tzion because I love the idea and reality of Zionism and Israel, and because I believe that critical thinking and commitment go together however uneasily at times. Study entails risk and reward. It engages and challenges teachers and students and enables them to explore more deeply ideas and opinions, raising the possibility that they will form new views, in this case leading them away from notions like Jewish self-government and cultural renewal. The benefit of learning seems far greater, both in terms of the inherent excitement and empowerment of study, and the deepening of one’s understanding of as fascinating a drama as the story of modern Jewish nationalism.
That story plays a central role in the larger question of what it means to be a modern Jew. Traditionally Jewishness involved peoplehood, religion, and culture; i.e. ethnic/tribal/national commitments, beliefs and behaviors about the sacred, and particular ways of life and expression, like language and literature. Historically, these three aspects of Jewish identity worked in harness, whereas modern Jews disagree about what Jewishness is and decide for themselves how much weight to give to any and all of those elements. Zionism involves its own history of wrestling with all of those components, for the sake of creating a new Jewish politics and community, and new ideas of identity and behavior as expressed in modern Hebrew and modern Israeli culture.
Tzion responds to something deep that I feel and that I take to be a universal human concern, the desire to connect to those things that make us feel included, those with whom we share something, a past and a story about that past. I want to create something that will challenge learners to consider the history and ideas of Zionism and Israel, so that they take understand the depth of modern Jewish nationalism, so that the questions that drive that story will become a part of the story of their lives, questions that they share with others.