Center of Modern Religious Zionism By David Morrison
Less than forty years after Gush Etzion was re-captured by Israel during the Six Day War, it has been transformed into the capital of modern religious Zionism. The Gush tells the story of the inspiring historical developments. More Below
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During the Six Day War, Israel recaptured Gush Etzion, after it was in the hands of the Arabs since 1948. At the time, Moshe Moscovic, a charismatic and devoted Zionist leader, predicted that the Gush will transform into a center of Jewish learning.
Less than forty years later, the reality has surpassed the dream. The Gush Etzion region has been transformed into the capital of modern religious Zionism. Its yeshivot are headed by such Torah luminaries as Rav Yehuda Amital, Rav Aaron Lichtenstein, and Rav Shlomo Riskin. Graduates of yeshivot from Gush Etzion make up a disproportionately high percentage of fighting men in the elite units of theIsraeli Defense Forces.
What compelled these leaders of Torah to leave much more comfortable surroundings in order to settle the Judean Hills?
How did this region become the center of Torah study that it is today?
The Gush is the story of these inspiring historical developments.
David Morrison is the author of Heroes, Antiheroes and the Holocaust, Lies: Israel’s Secret Service and the Rabin Murder (published in Hebrew and English), and co-author of the four-volume Hebrew dictionary set, Maskilon.
David Morrison’s inspiring work on the Gush is a beautiful and stirring account of the development of a slice of contemporary Israel. As someone who truly believes that his soul is indelibly linked to Gush Etzion, I am most grateful to the author. The book proves that Israel today is a continuing expression of Theodor Herzl’s adage “If you will it, it will not merely be a dream.” Rabbi Shlomo Riskin
Morrison tells the 'story of the inspiration and determination of one man, Moshe Moscovic [known as Moshko]… to build a center of Jewish learning in Gush Etzion…' This is the story of Gush Etzion: 'a vibrant center of Jewish learning intended to reach out to all of Israel and, indeed, the world.'
Today, the Gush is home to a 'crocheted skullcap' community (which works and does the army as opposed to the general ultra-orthodox one) and the hesder yeshiva (this means arrangement; i.e. there is an arrangement with the government that the boys do the army and study in a religious institution). We also learn how the residents are increasingly becoming 'a central part of the leadership of the State of Israel.' Morrison also provides a history of the Gush and its key players, with biblical and military references.
The Gush is a 'snapshot' of the communities Moshko created. Communities were built on the concept of b'nei beitcha – everyone owning their own home and land but the basis of the settlement would be the yeshiva.
Key characters we encounter include: Rav Yehuda Amital (a Holocaust survivor who headed the yeshiva); Rav Yaacov Meidan, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Rav Shmuel Vigoda, Rabbanit Esti Rosenberg, and Rav Shlomo Riskin. Meidan was 'a student in the first class of Yeshivat Har Etzion,' a staunch Zionist, who camped out by the Knesset on a hunger-strike when the government decided to arm the Palestinian police. Ultimately Amital – while disagreeing with his tactics – said how proud he was of this student. Lichtenstein made aliya to Yeshivat Har Etzion, joining his friend Amital's team as head of the Yeshiva thus sharing the role. Riskin was called in for the educational leadership of the Gush. Rav Vigoda became head of the Herzog College. Rabbanit Rosenberg, originally from New York, headed the women's college.
The last two chapters explain how the world views the Rabbis there and the importance of Moshko.
Objective: To give 'many readers, not familiar with this community… the same respect for it as do secular Jews in Israel who serve in the army with these religious men and women.' Comments: A fascinating 'snapshot' of life in the Gush; especially helpful for those with limited, media-driven knowledge on this beautiful neighborhood close to Israel's capital.
Jewish Educational Materials Online, The Jewish Agency for Israel