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"Hereness" and Jewish-American Identify

08/30/2018 07:34:19 PM


Hannah Orden

There is a lot of discussion in the Jewish world about the relationship between Israel and American Jews. Not only the political situation with Palestinians, but the idea that authentic Jewishness is in Israel, and all of us are really supposed to be there. An article in Jewish Currents called "On an Emerging Diasporism" talks about "hereness." The author says "hereness" invites us to dig in where we live. "Hereness isn't just about place, but about people. It is about centering our politics and spiritual project around those nearest to us."

I like the idea of "hereness" because my identity is both Jewish and American. The challenge, of course, is to hold onto our Jewishness because the pull to assimilate is strong. But it cannot be a nostalgic Jewishness. It has to be alive; it has to be evolving.
We can celebrate Israel. We can criticize Israel. We can be grateful that Israel exists. But that does not mean we belong there. We can also celebrate “hereness” and accept the challenge of creating rich centers of Jewish life wherever we are, wherever we call home.

Tue, August 11 2020 21 Av 5780