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Israel and American Jews: Sympathy, Not Loyalty

Henry S. Glazier
Fall 1997

April 18,1995  

Dr. Ronald B. Sobel  

Congregation Emanu-El  

1 East 65th Street  

New York, NY 10021-6506  

Dear Dr. Sobel:  

I have very much enjoyed and been greatly instructed by the articles in the Bulletin concerning the history of Reform Judaism. There have, however, been two containing comments with which I have been in considerable disagreement.  

The first was back in December. It must have been in number 17, which is missing from my files. It referred to some sort of dual loyalty between Israel and the United States among Reform Jews. I do not believe that any such feeling exists or ever existed among the vast majority of American Reform Jews. No matter how strong their sympathy for Israel may be or may have been, there has never been any doubt in their minds that their primary, indeed their sole loyalty is to the United States.  

The second comment with which I disagree and to which I object is in Number 35, which I received this morning. The article on Reform Judaism In America ends with Israel existed once again; God had not abandoned her, and concomitantly, the Jewish people. If the article means to indicate merely that this was Rabbi Fackenheim’s opinion, it should have stated so quite clearly. If it means that this was a general feeling among Jews at the time, it is quite incorrect.  

While there was certainly no sense of dual loyalty, there was undoubtedly a somewhat widespread feeling of sympathy for the new state of Israel; and only a few, like myself and my fellow members of the American Council of Judaism, worried that far from being a blessing, it might prove a disaster.  

That sense of sympathy rose to new heights after the Seven Days War in 1967, with a great increase in donations to Zionist and Israeli causes. The Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York joined the United Jewish Appeal in the expectation of greatly increased donations. I may well have been in a minority when I failed to support this union, insisting that I had the sole right to determine how much of my contributions should go to domestic and how much, if anything, to foreign beneficiaries. I have often wondered what has happened to Federation’s receipts now that the euphoria of the war has faded and whether Federation’s directors have any regrets about the joint appeal.  

I hope that the series will continue and that future issues will stress that, whatever the individual’s sympathy to Israel may be, it remains only sympathy for a foreign nation. Loyalty remains steadfast to the United States.  


Henry S. Glazier  

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