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Redemption in Zionist Thought and Culture

Hosted By: Haberman Institute

Was modern Zionism a continuation of traditional Jewish messianic longing or a rebellion against it? “Exile” and “redemption” are perhaps the twin poles that most defined traditional Jewish thought. “Exile” has also been a central term in much of Zionist thought—the “problem” that Zionism set out to correct. If “negation of exile” was so central to Zionism, is it also the case that the solutions it sought were based on visions of redemption? While language related to redemptive and messianic ideas was common in Zionism, some scholars have argued that this was little more than rhetoric aimed at mobilization of masses. Others have suggested that it is language that ought to be taken seriously.

In what ways did the language of redemption function in Zionism? In a movement that was at the forefront of the secularization of Jewish culture, what could notions of “redemption” mean, and how might they be relevant to us today?

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