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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Israel as fetish

Last night to celebrate Yom Ha’azmaut (Israel’s Independance Day) I headed to a concert at the Subterranean. Sponsored by KFAR and others and run by my friend Adam Davis, it was a really nice event. He got Hedoosh to play, had free swag and Israeli chocolates scattered around, and he made it an all ages show.

When I got there I was feeling luke warm about my upcoming trip to Israel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m psyched, but the feeling of “OMG I’M GOING TO ISRAEL IN A MATTER OF WEEKS!?!?!?” hasn’t quite set in. But then I walked into a bar full of Israeli flags with a slide show going of Israeli sunsets and marketplaces and it hit me. I got giddy, “OMG,” I punched Adam, “I’M GOING TO ISRAEL IN A MATTER OF WEEKS!!!!”

It was that flutter in my stomach that I had before I returned to Argentina in 2000. The return is so different from the first trip. I’m not scared to go, I’m excited. Allergies be damned, I’m eating avocados (if they are in season)!

There were little Israeli flags on toothpicks, blue crepe paper, bumper stickers about being a Zionist and wanting peace. After the band started, I looked around. Some people were wearing the bumper stickers and some their Zahal t-shirts. Cause if you can’t rock the IDFon Israeli Independance Day in a bar full of Jews, when can you?

Then for lack of a better word, I started wondering about whether or not that sort of event turns Israel into a fetish for American Jews. How many of the people in the room will or have served in the IDF? Will make aliyah? Will make tzedaka to support Israel? Understand why the Jews needed Israel 59 years ago and why we need it today?

I know there is inherant value in Jewish social events, so please don’t think I’m saying that KFAR shouldn’t do programming. I just wondered as I watched the room, feeling every day over 30 that I am, how much do they know about being Jewish beyond that bumper sticker? Do they even know whether or not they are zionists?

I joked that people should get a discounted rate for knowing the sh’ma or

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