Zionism and the Ethics of Judaism

June 6, 2024 $0.00 - $18.00
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Sovereignty, Violence and Morality: Zionism and the Ethics of Judaism


The current conflict that has seen a revival of the discussion regarding the Jewish right to establish a state in the Land of Israel has occasioned a renewed focus on the dynamics of sovereignty. Beyond a doubt, the implementation of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael is the essential dimension of political Zionism. In this seminar, I propose to examine the manner with which religion interacts with sovereignty and with the nationalist impulse that it nurtures. Among the questions considered are: Can the mingling of religion and state function constructively or must their interplay always be toxic, resulting in harmful and oppressive outcomes? Can God and religious values curb the excesses of nationalist fervor? How does the seductively alluring nature of power factor into the Zionist expression of Jewish sovereignty? And can there be a Zionism that embraces God, but does not aspire to sovereignty? We will study a variety of sources, ranging from the writings of the Rabbi of Satmar (an avowed anti-Zionist) to the messianic exhortations of the Rabbis Kook (father and son) and the settler rabbis of Gush Emunim (the Bloc of the Faithful) and to the pacifist thought of “One of the Passionate Rabbis” – אחד הרבנים המרגישים. We will see how these teachings inform and shape Israeli politics and foment the extremism that is evident today. And we will discover the sober voices of the tradition that promote constraint and a limitation on the unfettered exercise of power.



Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller is a faculty member at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. He recently celebrated 40 years of working with students and faculty as the Executive Director of the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA, where he is now Director Emeritus.


Chaim was ordained at Yeshiva University where he completed a Masters in Rabbinic Literature. He has been a lecturer in the Departments of Sociology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA, and in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He is a faculty member of the Wexner Heritage Foundation. Chaim was the founding director of the Hartman Fellowship for Hillel Professionals and a founding member of Americans for Peace Now.


Chaim was a rabbinic consultant to Barbra Streisand during the making of the film Yentl. He and his wife Dr. Doreen Seidler-Feller, a clinical psychologist, are the parents of two children.

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Thursday, June 6, 2024, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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