Professor Gil Troy makes the case for the Zionism of today and tomorrow

April 9, 2018

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On March 13, Tidewater was treated to an intimate, but spirited visit with Professor Gil Troy, a noted scholar of modern American history, as well as of the history and philosophy of Zionism from its 19th century roots to today.

In The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland—Then, Now, Tomorrow, his recent update to the Arthur Hertzberg classic, Troy channels more than 170 distinct and passionate voices on the triumphs and challenges of Zionism and the modern, Jewish, and democratic State of Israel. Troy sketched out the historic and cultural philosophies of Zionism from the time of Theodore Herzl through the founding and maturing of Israel, and finally to the current age of de-legitimization and denial of the reality of Israel as a progressive and democratic state.

During his time in Tidewater, Troy championed the importance of the American Jewish community serving as torchbearers for the ever-evolving idea of Zionism as the expression of what Israel should be, based on its history and its modern existence as a Jewish democratic state. He challenged his audience to continue the conversation in a communal setting by hosting Zionist “salons” (a fancy word for what most would describe as a book club, complete with the steady flow of wine to facilitate the discourse) and to “play hooky” on Yom Ha’atzmaut this year, Israel’s 70th birthday, eat ice cream for breakfast, and spend some time answering the questions, “What does Israel mean to me? What does Zionism mean to me?”

Professor Troy’s visit was the latest successful and well-attended event in the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Simon Family JCC’s Israel Today@70 program, a year-long offering of scholarly and cultural events celebrating Israel, her people, their stories, and the Jewish community’s shared future. Israel Today@70 is made possible through the support of numerous community partners and friends.

- Andy Fox

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