?כיצד לפתוח את דברי
.אולי כדאי שאפתח את דברי מההתחלה, מבראשית
.אולי כדאי שאפתח את דברי מההתחלה, מבראשית
.אני בנו של פלסטינאי
אבי הגיע מפלסטינה למלבורן בשנת 1927
.כחלוץ צעיר מפולין הוא עזר לבנות את תל-אביב
.וכאידישסט, ציוני וחוקר השפה העברית הוא קרא למסעדה שפתח קרלטון קפה תל-אביב
.אני הפכתי לציוני בבית אבי
VaAni Hafachti Letsioni Beveit Avi
And I became a Zionist in my father’s house. So it is to my father that I dedicate this Zionist prize. And to his father, my grandfather, who lies buried on Har Hatsofim, Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Prize. A prize by any other name would not be as sweet. The city, the name, the very word, each of its letters yud, resh vav shin, lamed, yud, mem, each so special –
And so I am grateful beyond measure.
Now it may seem strange to express that gratitude by posing a problematic question and a challenge to the Australian Zionist movement.
Both the question and challenge are about Zion and Jerusalem.
The question: will Zionists still exist in Israel or the Diaspora 46 years from now in 2058?
See me for your own Jerusalem prize afterwards if you can tell me now: Why 2058…
OK that year will mark 200 years since the birth of Eliezer Ben Yehuda.
No prizes in this audience for who can tell me about Eliezer Ben Yehuda. He’s not part of the problematic question; he’s part of the solution.
Now here the challenge: Create a Jerusalem Prize for the Jewish people.
Make Hebrew their lingua franca. Make Hebrew the bridge of meaning for all who call themselves Zionists.
Which, clearly, it isn’t yet.
But that’s why I began in Hebrew. Not to show off, I can assure you. Yes, I speak Hebrew, but I’m not that fluent, and I had to have some help with my grammar and style.
But I wanted to make a point about Zionism’s revival of Hebrew as a vibrant and vital language.
It is Zionism’s other miraculous and towering achievement which preceded the state of Israel, and which stands alongside it.
But I also wanted to make a point about Zionism’s unfinished business in the 21st century, and whether Zionism will mean anything by the middle of this century.
Or whether by then it will be another forgotten ism, an ideology that had pretty well succeeded to do what it set out to do and departed the world and Jewish stage.
As I see it, Zionism’s great challenges in Israel – finding a path to peace, building the just society, maintaining a Jewish, pluralist, and secular democracy, and being a light unto the nations – these are ultimately matters for the citizens of Israel, and for those who choose to join them there.
Of course we who call ourselves Zionists outside Israel can, and must continue to support Israel in all of these endeavours: by giving money, by investing money, by advocating, by lobbying, identifying, and by travelling there.
Australia, this great, free, and blessed country allows and enables us to do all these things.
But I hold those truths to be self-evident.
We should do them because as Jews we love and cherish Israel. If being a Zionist outside Israel, however, still means something more, and I believe it does, and if it means adding value, and I believe it does, then it means learning Hebrew.
Not just teaching it to our children in day schools or youth movements. Not just having them learning it on Shnat or at the Machon. I take those obligations, individually and communally and nationally, for granted. That was the 20th century project. And it must continue.
But I am talking about the 21st century project: life-long Hebrew learning as adults.
Meaning: To be able to read Hebrew texts ancient and modern, to speak Hebrew, to sing Hebrew, to dance Hebrew, to dream Hebrew.
Meaning: for future Jewish leaders, certainly for future Zionist leaders who come to Israel to conduct their conferences, and dialogues, and missions, and oh so very important meetings with the prime minister of Israel and the minister for this and that in Israel – in Hebrew. Not in English.
Life-long learning. Kol yemei chayecha. All the days of your life.
Hebrew – language, literature, culture – Hebrew is the vital bridge which can keep Israel and the Diaspora from continuing to drift apart.
Hebrew is the vital bridge to connect to a new generation of Israeli leaders who, if they’re being frank, talking dugri, will tell you that until now they’ve mostly thought of Tsionut, the Hebrew word for Zionism, let’s remember, as a synonym for bullsheise.
Hebrew is the vital bridge if you want to keep Zionism alive and give it meaning–Hebrew is not the only way. But it’s the best way.
Public relations won’t do it. Fund-raising won’t do it. Education that stops after Year 12 won’t do it. Even Israel experience programs won’t do it.
We’re going to need something more if 46 years from now our children will be able to speak to their children. Something which links hearts, minds and souls. A living language.
And even if they don’t know it, don’t admit it, and ma ichpat lahem anyhow, because they don’t care, Israelis are going to need something more.
Yes, as Jews who want to be Jews, we need Israel more than Israel needs us. But this is not a zero-sum game. As Israelis who want to be Israelis they also need us, the tyranny of distance Zionists down under, just as they need them in the United States, in Europe, and elsewhere in the Golah.
The Australian Zionist movement has been a leader amongst Zionist communities.
Here is the chance to lead yet again. We need new, dare I say it, revolutionary Zionist thinking.
The media and information technologies of the 21st century have opened new doors of language learning for everybody. Yes, we already have “Learn Hebrew” apps and online courses galore. You can even learn Hebrew via Twitter and YouTube.
But much of the new technology is hit and miss. It needs co-ordination, commitment, and marketing.
And only a mobilized Zionist movement can provide that.
So Come on Aussie, come on. Mobilize. Organise. Lead. Market.
We’ve all heard of Daf Yomi, the daily page of Talmud study. Hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world learn it every day, and knock off 60 volumes of pilpul in a five to seven year cycle. Many of them even do it via IPhone and IPad.
Well, it’s time for Daf Ivri, the daily page of Hebrew. Make it a must read for anyone and everyone who cares about Israel. For every Zionist.
Five minutes a day. That’s all. Tnu li chamesh dakot. Ve etein lachem kol ha-Olam kulo.
Let’s involve Jerusalem, by all means, but don’t wait for the World Zionist Organisation. And don’t wait for the Americans or the Canadians or the Brits. Let Australia show the way. Let Melbourne reach out to Jerusalem. Let Australia speak to Zion.
Tsioni Daber Ivrit.
?וכיצד אסיים את דברי
.אולי כפי שפתחתי אותם
.עם מספר מילים בעברית
.יש לי תקווה
.הציונות הייתה ועודנה, תנועה ההופכת קבוצות מיעוטים לקבוצות שהן הרוב
ולכן תקוותי היא פשוטה
…שלא ירחק היום, שבו ילדינו וילדי ילדנו יוכלו לאמר
Ki Mitzion tetzei Hasafah Udvar Ivri Miyerushalyim
For from Zionism shall go forth the language and the Hebrew word from Jerusalem.
That would be the greatest prize of all.
Ani modeh lachem