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Yehudah Mirsky, writing for Jewish Ideas Daily, explores why it took so long for Rabbi Heschel to take off in Israel

In 1957 Heschel visited Israel for the first time.  The transformative experience impressed on him Israel’s centrality to Jewish existence.  Yet the “rebirth of religion,” he said in a speech he delivered during his visit,

“will come only through the renewal of inner perplexity, through the travails of thought standing before the hidden and obscure in each and every thing, including in thought itself . . . .  [F]aith is none other than the individual’s response and answer to God’s voice proceeding through the Garden and asking, ‘Where are you?’”

This powerful critique of 1950s American Jewish Babbittry could not be appreciated by the Zionist ideology of the time . . . Today, Heschel’s savage critiques of postwar American Jewish complacency and the religious establishment might fall on more fertile ground in Israel, where the moral obtuseness and spiritual vacuity of the religious establishment become clearer by the day, younger activists seek to link their passion for justice with Jewish spirituality, and the secular religion has largely exhausted itself.

Read the rest here .

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