a man stands speaking at a podium. a banner in the background reads "A VIBRANT DIASPORA"
Oshman Family JCC CEO Zack Bodner speaking at Zionism 3.0, Dec. 9 2018 (Photo/OFJCC)

Israeli and diaspora Jews are equal partners in global enterprise

On Dec. 9, the Oshman Family JCC welcomed 1,100 people to our fourth annual Zionism 3.0 conference in Palo Alto.

At “Z3 — Making Miracles Here & There: Uniting a Divided People,” we heard from a vast array of voices expressing thoughts on how to bridge the growing divide between Israel and world Jewry. As so many conferences these days focus on what divides these two great centers of Jewish life, Z3 was all about what unites us. This conference, co-hosted by the OFJCC and the Reut Group, set the stage for launching a movement to create a new model for how world Jewry and Israel engage for the 21st century.

Some of the greatest Jewish leaders of our time addressed the participants. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks challenged us to come up with the first genuinely new idea in Zionism and Judaism in the last century. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin invited diaspora Jews to share in the challenges with Israelis. New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks urged Jews to recognize their spiritual and moral agency. And National Jewish Book Award-winner Tova Hartman put tradition in context with a new future.

The underlying philosophy of Z3 is that we are in the third phase of Zionism. Zionism 2.0, the dominant expression of Zionism in the second half of the 20th century, built on the negation of the diaspora, put forth the notion that the diaspora would become irrelevant or even disappear, and Israel would be the ingathering place for all Jews.

But Zionism 3.0 recognizes that that there is both a strong Israel and a strong Jewish diaspora, and we strengthen each other, we inspire each other and we learn from each other’s approach to forming Jewish identity.

On the second day of Z3, we took the next step in launching this new movement by gathering together leaders who want to host or sponsor conversations like this all over the Jewish world to build broad consensus on the following principles:

1. Israel is the state where the entire Jewish People exercises its right to self-determination.
2. Israel and world Jewry are two centers equal in their significance for Jewish destiny.
3. A vibrant diaspora is a Zionist imperative.
4. Peoplehood is the binding formative ideal of world Jewry and Israel.
5. Z3 is a cross-partisan idea and movement, encompassing the full diversity of Jewish life and expression.

The next Z3 conference in Palo Alto is scheduled for Nov. 10, 2019. But other JCCs, Jewish Federations and synagogues around the country are sure to host their own Z3 before then — and we are going to help because that is what it’s going to take to keep this discussion going and create a new platform for world Jewry-Israel relations. If you’re interested in joining the conversation, visit us at z3conference.org.

Zack Bodner

Zack Bodner is Chief Executive Officer of the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto.