Jewish Idealism

A key difference between living in Israel and the United States.

Comments (15)

(15) chaim ltrama, August 29, 2009 3:50 PM


idealism without sound judgement can cause great harm. when a person has a solid grasp of who they are and what they believe in, plus the study of Torah, then they can make choices about ideas that they may wish to embrace. but without a solid faith and understanding of the world idealism can be a very destructive tool.

(14) Anonymous, August 26, 2009 2:01 AM

not really materialism but necessity

I am not a particularly materialistic person, although I enjoy a car that works, etc. But the reality of living as an Orhodox Jews in America drives many of us to have to focus on earning significantly more money than we would otherwise have to. It's a necessity rather than a choice, and drives many of us into overdrive and overstress! I wish we had the luxury to be idealsitic!! We could create much nicer communities to live in.

(13) Anonymous, August 25, 2009 10:00 PM


WOW! Thanks for reminding me why we made aliyah all of those years ago. May we never forget why and how important it is to keep forging on---not suffering from a lack of--welll lots of things---but forging on and appreciating what is so great about eretz hakodesh--my land--our land.

(12) ruth housman, August 25, 2009 8:28 PM

on Target

I think it's true, that as a nation, here, there are less protests and less massive marches to protest injustice of all kinds. All the same I know a lot of people, Jews and Non Jews whose conversation is about injustice and about making positive change, in all areas of life. If there is a Jewish gene for injustice, it might have something to do with what has been passed down also through history, namely a history of being sensitized to what it's like to feel marginalized. This is deep and we do teach it to our children, or hopefully, we do. I do believe that all people who suffer, can take the high road, meaning sensitization brings them to a deeper awareness of what needs to be righted in life, and that there is a low road that makes people then very self-righteous and often entitled, and those people grab and behave in ways that are the opposite of sensitive because they have learned another lesson, namely take what you can while you can. I see all people in a different light, meaning I spend a lot of time on environmental and other causes on line, and it's not just Jews and the Jewish gene that prompts these wonderful people who truly, do care. So maybe this gene runs through many "lines".

(11) Linda J. McArtney, August 25, 2009 7:50 PM

To Lori Palatnik

Thank you Lori for all your wonderful and informative articles. Yourself, and what I have learned from them have also played a part in my decision to convert to Judiaism. Keep up the good work! Linda

(10) Berry, August 25, 2009 7:41 PM

Gee Lori, I live in Israel. What idealism did you see here?

Just curious as to what you're referring to.

(9) Dave Mittman, August 25, 2009 7:28 PM

Look a bit harder

Please don't compare apples and oranges. I agree that Jews tend to be idealistic. No doubt. But you need to look at the founding fathers who signed the Constitution and their children to see the classic ideals and idealism that America stands for. It's hard to compare a country under siege to a 230 year old democracy that is not under attack.OR BETTER YET if you really want to see idealism, spend a day on an Army or Air Force base with the men and women serving our country. I am sorry your eyes to not see that but do see it in the soldiers of Israel. I see it in both. Dave

(8) Dena, August 25, 2009 7:16 PM


Lori, you are one of the best "things" to hit the internet. You pack a powerful punch in your own warm, intelligent and engaging way. I love your videos and each one has a powerful message. Very moving and inspiring. Can you tell I'm a fan?

(7) lin, August 25, 2009 6:32 PM

I agree 100%

Hi Lori, I enjoy your videos. You always make me think and broaden my understanding of the world. I visited Israel in 1977 and it impacted me. My husband and I want to go there within a year (he has never gone) and experience it as 50 something yr.old people who have an opinion, are interested in other cultures and religions. I am idealistic, but see the real world around me. I am currently protesting the H1N1 injection, as it has not been tested to be safe and did a great deal of damage in 1976 in USA. Many people developed Guillain Barre Syndrome due to it, and then sued the government for pushing it to avoid the "big bad Swine Flu" that did not materialize. We are praying for wisdom as we research the origin of Swine Flu, immunizations, depopulation. So many people are just in a la-la land and don't even know what's going on in the world.

(6) Keren Hannah, August 25, 2009 5:26 PM

Lori for President!


(5) Bunny Shuch, August 25, 2009 4:40 PM

I agree with Paul Katz. These days in the United States (and even in some segments of Israeli society) Jewish idealism has been distorted into anti-Israel and anti Jewish causes. We need to look for a cure for that. It's easy and "feels good" to get all excited about a cause and a supposed underdog and go marching and protesting. What's difficult is to study and learn about the complexities of a situation and recognize that while not perfect, Israel is the last, best hope for the Jewish people everywhere and even for democracies everywhere. These days, the enemy is not only the Islamic jihadists; the enemy is us, when we hold Israel, fighting for her life against hordes of murderous nations, accountable to impossibly high standards of conduct to which no other country in the world subscribes. We need to support Israel and shape the idealism of our youth in that direction.

(4) Oppenheim, August 25, 2009 3:58 PM

Compassionate Ideals, Firm in Vision

The introspective universalism ("I tried to change the world . . . and found I could only change myself") that has contributed to Jewish insight and alignment with our better angels has also encouraged creation of a path of apology and relativism that has led to harm for ourselves and others. I think there is an intuitive-logical needle involved in the development of a compassionate conscience and an altogether decent moral compass, and perceiving a good course for ourselves and others, as we so often do, acquiring the backbone to stay assertive about keeping to it would seem helpful.

(3) Sharon, August 24, 2009 9:12 PM

not a very scientific survey

Lori, how I wish you were correct in your assertion that Israelis are largely idealistic. I imagine you based yourself on a small crossection of religious Jews. In the secular Israeli world there is quite a bit of materialism, though idealism of sorts can be found there too. Too many Israelis are buying into the revisionist historic versions and lack any religious ties and are frankly lost. It probably is true that Americans are more materialistic than Israelis, but we are far from where we should be. I do agree that Jews have been at the forefront of movements for change, which have been positive. But if Israelies would be more "into" Judaism, the whole world would be better off.

(2) Paul Katz, August 24, 2009 5:41 AM

What kund of idealism?

Idealism that is not informed by traditional Jewish values can go very bad very fast. There are no shortage of secular Jews that have become useful (though educated) idiots in service to anti Israel and anti American causes such as Marxism, racical feminism, and moral relativism. Six Jewish US Senators just refused to sign a letter to President Obama requesting less pressure on Israel though most of the other senators (71) did vote for the pro Israel letter. These Jewish senators certainly see themselves as idealistic. Am I supposed to feel good about that?

(1) Rosen, August 24, 2009 2:20 AM


While many people around me, including Jewish peers who choose to inter-date and intermarry, I don't give in to the pressures of assimilation like that because I feel if I don't marry Jewish, then Judaism would be nullified to me. Therefore, the only certain corner of the universe that can be well-controlled and that G-d created for us is one's self. Therefore, as Gandhi famously said, "we must be the change in this world we want to see." It all begins with ourselves and the choices within our free will that we make. I just hope that all of us Jews can be responsive to one another so that there can be a united Jewish front someday soon. After all, aren't all Jews responsible for one another? That's why all Jews ought to unite from the friendliest to the loneliest.


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