American Zionism at an Impasse:
A Movement in Search of a Program
My Grandfather was not a Zionist, and yet my first experience of Zionism was an act of identification with him—and rebellion against my father. It came right after my Bar Mitzva. My father, who was too much of an old-fashioned Hasid to force the hand of the Messiah, could no longer oppose the new tendencies invading his home, and so finally, rather behind his back, I joined the Gordonia youth group. As its name shows, it was sponsored by the Labor Zionists.
It is always tempting to read back into early adolescence attitudes acquired or clearly formulated later, but I rather think that even then, in a dim sort of way, I was not quite satisfied with the Jewish values of my home. Or, perhaps, as the son of a rabbi I felt left out of things, as indeed was the case, for I was made to study the Talmud during winter afternoons and all day during the summer while others were playing. A child is very lonely with a big folio in front of him—and Henty’s stories of the Napoleonic wars, which I read when I was supposed to be reviewing (iberchazern is the traditional word), simply made the loneliness more poignant by contrast with such deeds of heroism.
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