A Response to Seth Rogen

The recent interview with Seth Rogen on the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” was intended to promote Rogen’s new film, “An American Pickle.” However, Rogen’s comments about Israel and what he learned in religious school and left-wing Zionist summer camp upset a lot of American Jews and Israelis while reflecting the conundrum of millennial and boomer American Jews in our relationship with the Jewish State.

Allison Kaplan Summer reviews thoughtfully their conversation, putting their remarks into context, in Haaretz.

The attitude that Rogen expressed, shared by many in the American Jewish community, was the reason I wrote Why Israel Matters – Letters of  Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation (New Jersey: Ben Yehuda Press, 2019, 137 pages). Available on Amazon Books.

What I seek to do in my 11 letters to my two grown sons is to address the concerns that liberal American Jews have about the State of Israel from a position of love and critical thinking.

The themes of the letters are: “An Invitation to a Tough, Important Conversation” – “Our American Jewish Identity and Israel” – “Israel and the Idea of Home” – “Navigating Between Liberalism and Zionism” – “Why Reform Zionism Matters” – “The International Campaign Against Israel” – “The Clash of Narratives and Rights” – “Is There a Solution to the Israel-Palestinian Conflict” – “Why Jerusalem is Not a Unified City” – “Why Hebrew Matters” – and “What a Country!”

In the Appendix, I list chronologically the significant highlights of “The History and Decisions that Brought us to the Present” and offer “Suggestions for Further Reading.”

Yossi Klein Halevi, the author of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, endorsed the book saying “This thoughtful and passionate book reminds us that commitment to Israel and to social justice are essential components of a healthy Jewish identity.”

Professor Daniel Kurtzer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel (2001-2005) and to Egypt (1997-2001), wrote “Rosove pulls no punches, laying out both the imperfections and ethical choices surrounding Israel and American Jews. But he also manifests a passionate love for Israel and what one scholar has called ‘values-based aspirational Zionism.’ This book will raise as many questions for Rosove’s sons as it answers; it is a book that many of us wish we had written for our own children.’”

Anat Hoffman, the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center said “Rosove’s optimism, and his boundless faith in Jewish peoplehood and Jewish values, makes the book an invaluable blueprint for Jews, both in Israel and around the world, to help the Jewish State live up to its founding values of acceptance, pluralism, and democracy and become a true light unto the nations.”

And Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, wrote “Rabbi Rosove’s truths reach minds and open hearts. I urge each and every individual who feels in any way connected to the Jewish People, to ponder this powerful assemblage of candid, insightful messages which address the core issues facing Israel as a nation, and as a notion. A must-read!”

This book is for Seth and Marc and anyone who thoughtfully asks the hard questions that liberalism and Zionism pose as opposite sides of the same coin.

About the Author
John L. Rosove is Senior Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles. He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street and immediate past National Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA). He serves as a member of the newly created Union for Reform Judaism's Israel and Reform Zionism Committee (IRZC). John was the 2002 Recipient of the World Union for Progressive Judaism International Humanitarian Award and has received special commendation from the State of Israel Bonds. In 2013 he was honored by J Street at its Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles. John is the author of two books - “Why Judaism Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove” (Nashville: Jewish Lights Publishing, a division of Turner Publishing Company, 2017) and "Why Israel [and its Future] Matters - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" (New Jersey: Ben Yehuda Press, 2019). Both are available at John translated and edited the Hebrew biography of his Great Granduncle – "Avraham Shapira – Veteran of the Haganah and Hebrew Guard" by Getzel Kressel (publ. by the Municipality of Petach Tikvah, 1955). The translation was privately published (2021). John is married to Barbara. They are the parents of two sons - Daniel (married to Marina) and David. He has two grandchildren.
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