American Jews and Israel in the Post-War Period

Nice place to visit, wouldn't want to live there.

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There were Jews both in Israel and America critical of this "checkbook Judaism.” William Zuckerman argued that American Jewishness had degen­erated into “campaign Judaism.” American Jewry, Zuckerman said, “has almost consciously emptied itself of all higher aspirations and spiritual needs and has willingly limited itself to the role of a financial milk cow for others. . . . How can a community…whose highest ideal is mechanical fundraising, be the source of nobility and greatness?” Writing checks might be a salve for the conscience of Jews who felt guilty that they were not better Jews, but they were no substitute for making aliyah, observing the Sabbath, and keeping kosher.

While true, these complaints missed the point. People pay for those things they value, and the vast sums contributed in 1967 and 1973 demonstrated, as nothing else could demonstrate, the priority of many American Jews. 

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Edward Shapiro is a Professor of History at Seton Hall University.