Judaism Unbound Episode 128: Zionism 3.0 - Zack Bodner


Dan and Lex welcome back Zack Bodner, CEO of the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, California. In their conversation, they explore his organization's "Zionism 3.0" conference, along with broader questions regarding the ever-evolving relationship between American Jews and Israel. [1]

(0:01 - 13:58): To begin the episode, Bodner lays out the framing behind Zionism 3.0. [2] He outlines some characteristics of Zionism 1.0 and 2.0, and reflects on changes in today's world that have led to a new kind of Zionism in the 21st century. He looks back at the events in his own community that led to the creation of the Zionism 3.0 conference, and names directly the vast diversity of Zionisms that manifested in the early 20th century, including some that were not focused on the idea of Jewish statehood. [3]

(13:59 - 29:42): Like many of Judaism Unbound's past guests, Bodner provides his take on approaching Israel, and world Jewry, through the metaphor of family. Like some of them, and unlike others, he endorses the idea. [4] He also looks at the topic of "red lines" in Jewish communal institutions, distinguishing between individuals he would welcome as attendees at organizational events and those whom he would offer a platform as a guest speaker. [5] Next, Bodner calls for a relationship between American Jews and Israel that is truly a two-way street --  where, in addition to diaspora support for the Jewish state, Israelis seek to learn from American Judaism.

(29:43 - 47:31): Bodner explores some tensions between ideological pluralism and moral clarity, through the metaphor of a tent. He argues that, while it is important for communal institutions to create a "big tent," built on ideological pluralism, it is also crucial that such tents have "poles" marking the boundaries of discourse. [6] He also asserts that institutional red lines will naturally evolve to look different in different time periods. To close the episode, Bodner returns to the frame of Zionism 3.0, stating that a defining difference between Zionism 2.0 and 3.0 is that the former was built on Americans having "a stake without a say" in Israeli government policy, while Zionism 3.0 will involve American Jews who have both a stake and a say.

[1] Zack Bodner's bio is accessible by clicking here. Learn more about the annual Zionism 3.0 conference here.

[2] Check out a blog post that Bodner wrote about Zionism 3.0 at this link.

[3] Lex alludes to "jOS 4.0" in one of the questions he asks Bodner. Learn more about this frame by listening to Episode 21: jOS 4.0 - A New Jewish Operating System?.

[4] For a different take on the role that familial metaphors play in the relationship between American Jews and Israel, see Episode 121: Homecoming and Arrival - Yehuda Kurtzer.

[5] Bodner cites a friend of his, who argues that American-Jewish institutions should be as ideologically diverse as the Israeli k'nesset. For a piece expanding on that idea, see this 2017 article in The New York Times, written by Lisa Goldman and entitled "Anti-Zionists Thrive in Israel, Why Not in the U.S?"

[6] Over the course of this conversation thread, two other past episodes of Judaism Unbound are cited. Listen to them by clicking the following links: Episode 66: Jewish? Community? Center - Zack BodnerEpisode 120: A Less Toxic Conversation - Melissa Weintraub