In Chicago, a new synagogue seeks Judaism minus Zionism

(RNS) An Israeli flag next to the rabbi’s podium, a synagogue-wide Israel Independence Day celebration, a prayer for the state of Israel during services — for many, these are innocuous if not positive parts of American Jewish congregational life.

For Rabbi Brant Rosen and his future congregants at Tzedek Chicago, a new synagogue that identifies as non-Zionist, these are symbols of a nationalism-infused Judaism, which he thinks is not only unnecessary but harmful.

“We believe that that’s led to some very dark places and that the establishment of an exclusively Jewish nation-state in a land that has historically been multiethnic and multireligious has led irrevocably to the tragic issues that we’re facing today,” Rosen said.

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As the article points out, highly Orthodox Jewish movements such as Satmar and Neturei Karta are opposed to Zionism but for religious reasons not humanitarian ones as is the current synagogue, which is part of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement. Note that the other liberal branch of Judaism, Reform Judaism, is in favor of Israeli Zionism, as are Conservative Judaism and most of Orthodox, both mainstream and Hasidic, Judaism. To each his own, especially with regard to Jews, who rarely agree on political issues.

do the non zionists believe Jews were meant to live in diaspora - around the world.

The Satmar do until the Messiah comes. I’m not sure what the belief of the Recontructionist movement is concerning this. Of course, individual Jews from any movement of Judaism, or who are secular or cultural, may believe as they wish.

I have never heard of the Satmar.

They are one of the Hasidic groups. Most of the Hasidic movements, however, do support the Zionist State of Israel. In the movie, The Chosen (1981), Rod Steiger plays a (probably) Satmar religious Jew or rabbi. Robby Benson plays his son, who befriends a Zionist Jew. An excellent film, which I recommend if you haven’t already seen it. Steiger (who happened to have been Lutheran) was such a great actor and is brilliant in this film.

I have the book.

although I believe Israel has the right to exist, I also like the idea of Jewish communities throughout the world with their customs and culture and synagogues. They make so many contributions and help keep Judaism alive.

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