Jewish History Soundbites

David Ben-Gurion & the Jewish Character of the State of Israel

June 18, 2021

Considered by many as the founding father of the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) had a unique vision of the Jewish character of the Jewish state. With an antagonism towards religious practice and his negative view of the 'diaspora Jew', he also had a sense of realpolitik and understood the practical gains of reaching a status quo agreement. On October 20, 1952 he paid a visit to Israel's most venerable sage, Rav Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, the Chazon Ish.

Though thoroughly secular himself, he had a strong love for Tanach. And though he wouldn't set foot into a synagogue in Israel, in the Diaspora he viewed it as a place where Jews got together and expressed their common identity and community. Zionism in his view had achieved the twin goals of creating a Jewish state in the historic Land of Israel and - for those residing there - the ingathering of exiles. It had thus served its purpose, and he declared that, 'I'm an Israeli, not a Zionist'.
With a myriad of accomplishments and a controversial legacy, the story of Ben Gurion and the Jewish character of the state he had done so much to found, is a chapter of Jewish history with reverberations down to this very day.
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