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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Israel as fetish (and is my email working?)


Last night I enjoyed a delish dinner at The Blue Line. I used the $50 gift certificate that I scored at the JCUA fundraiser. The one where I had no shame and put my name on the Dating 101 silent auction package. Yes, that one. My friend Adam came with me and we had some fancy cocktails, chips and dips and dinner. Mmmmm, sweet potato fries with sea salt on them. Yum!

From there we went to the Yom Ha’azmaut party at Subteranean. Being the old fuddy duddies that we are, we arrived on time which turned out to be an hour before the band Hedoosh actually started playing. Once we got upstairs I saw Israeli flags and a looped slideshow of Israeli scenes, my stomach began to flutter.

It is the flutter of return to a country you love. The last time I felt it (other than for America when I returned from living in London) was in 2000 when I returned to Argentina. It is distinct from the flutter of a first trip. The adrenaline courses a little faster or something… I just got that distinct, “OMG, I’m GOING TO ISRAEL IN A MATTER OF WEEKS!” feeling.

Then I started to consider Israel as a fetish. Not in sexual terms, but in the way that some American Jews relate to the country. Perhaps more specifically, and possibly more in a sexual way, how we relate to the Israeli Defense Force. And then I wonder, “Have I made Israel into a fetish? Or do I somehow have a mature, consenting relationship with the nation?”

No, that’s impossible. As far as knowledge about Israel, Zionism, politics, and language, I’ve barely scratched the surface. Am I better for rockin on Israeli Independance Day instead of reading a book on history? Should I have been studying Hebrew instead of kvetching that the band was just a little too loud?

I clearly have no answers, just questions. How do you translate attendance at a concert into a meaningful relationship with Israel or with Judaism? Or is the attendance enough?

I know that my way of being Jewish isn’t the only way and I would hate it if it was. I love knowing more observant Jews and I love knowing vehemently secular Jews. I don’t totally understand either, but I want them both in my life and in my community. And I know this isn’t an original post, it is just what Yom Ha’azmaut got me thinking.

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