Zionist Utopias

Early Zionist thinkers envisioned, in great detail, the perfect human--and Jewish--society.

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In a similar vein, though with a more marked Jewish emphasis and less attention to detail, Elhanan Leib Lewinski [in his Journey to the Land of Israel in the Year 5800] imagined a society in which health‑-individual, social, and communal‑-is the norm. Physical well-being is fostered by the climate, form of diet (kashrut), agricultural way of life, purity of family life, and the ready availability of medical services. There is no longer a profusion of little shopkeepers‑-"once almost our second nature because of our history," they have returned to the land to lead a natural life.

The social health of the community is manifest in its prevailing equality. There is no labor question and no capitalist question, "for there are no workers and all are masters." Drunkenness and crime are absent, there is no hardship and therefore no crime. "There is nothing but peace and nothing but tranquility in the house of Israel."

Intellectual health is shown in the profusion of learned lectures, to which no entrance fee is demanded, as in Europe, and in the multitude of serious publications. The countryside blossoms as never before. The Dead Sea has been transformed into a thriving community.

"How great are thy deeds, O man!"' exclaims Lewinski.

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Lionel Kochan

Lionel Kochan (1922-2005) was Littman Lecturer in Jewish Politics at Oxford University and Sherman Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester. His books include Jews, Idols, and Messiahs and Beyond the Graven Image.