HAS THE ISRAEL MOVEMENT FOR PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM COME OUT OF EGYPT?
For the People of Israel, the generations in Egypt were a period of both physical and spiritual exile. Their spiritual enslavement was no less severe than the physical enslavement they endured. Forty years of wandering in the desert were needed in order to produce a generation freed from the mentality of dependence on others who dictated the existential conditions of the people.
Herzl’s Political Zionism emphasizes liberation from physical enslavement, whereas Ahad Ha’am was more concerned by spiritual enslavement. Due to the historical circumstances facing the Jewish people in the twentieth century, the Jewish people had no choice but to develop a plan for action. Cultural Zionism was shunted onto the sidelines, but its day has now arrived.
Reform Zionism is an exegesis on the Cultural Zionist stream. It rejects both assimilation in Western culture (“Hebrew-speaking Gentiles”) and spiritual enslavement to Halachic Judaism.