Held Back – A Returnee’s Story

“Israel has created a new image of the Jew in the world – the image of a working and an intellectual people, of a people that can fight with heroism.”
David Ben-Gurion

“A working and intellectual people? What were we before then?”
True Torah Jews

Jonathan Finkel’s life was typical of many American Jews. Growing up secular in Detroit, Judaism was by and large a non-issue. Things flowed and life was peaceful. Until the politics/wars of “Israel” inevitably dragged him into discussions with his Arab friends.

Attending a public school that had a significant Palestinian student body, Jonathan, now Yonason, never lacked for examples of allegedly “Jewish” behavior. Villages bulldozed and entire populations displaced to make way for the “New Jew” of Zionist imagination. Apparently, this is what Jews did.

Sensitive and fair-minded by nature, Jonathan felt that, if this was Judaism, then it was not for him. The nightly news did little to alter his perception. War proceeded by yet another war. Casualty after casualty. Jewishness appeared a very dark and menacing thing, strapped with an AK-47. Spritzing gas on an already roaring fire was the increasingly bellicose settler movement. Here, it seemed, was proof positive that the Zionist enterprise was synonymous with religion. The equation was straightforward. Someone’s Zionism increases in intensity as they inch closer to Judaism (G-d forbid).

This attitude, which achieved tracktion amongst young, Western Jews in recent years, can be summarized by the following story.

It was one of those rare instances where Jonathan Finkel found himself in a Reform synagogue. He was given a siddur (prayer book) of sorts and the service commenced. Though exposed as a child to an insipid version of Jewish observance and belief, he did have a rudimentary grasp of Loshon HaKodesh (the Holy Tongue) and was able to follow along without too much difficulty.

However, at 12 years of age his aversion to the State of “Israel’s” actions was already so strong that it wouldn’t allow him to say the word “Israel” even in prayer. In his innocence, he reasoned that the word which popped up so often in this and every other prayer book must be referring to the modern nation. Nobody in his Reform synagogue had said otherwise and it’s doubtful that many of them knew differently.

Jonathan was at his core a deeply spiritual person who desired to learn more about Judaism. But this notion wouldn’t allow him. He, like all of his Jewish friends, had no other frame of reference to go on and so the faith of his forefathers was left uninvestigated. Better to stay ignorant than to become immoral.

Life continued in this vein for some time till one day Jonathan found himself engaged in a philosophical conversation with a college friend, an Italian-American who from New York City. “I would be willing to hear about Judaism but all religious Jews are Zionists” Jonathan said with no slight hint of distain. “Why do I need that?” His friend, having seen numerous demonstrations during his childhood in Brooklyn, shot back an emphatic “Not true!” He then proceeded to describe communities of thousands of Jews who were just as passionately against the Zionist State as he was. “That was the first time that I heard that there could be such a thing as Jews against Zionism and that realization gave me my first push toward exploring Judaism.”

Now a frum Jew learning in a well known yeshivah in New York State, we asked Jonathan if he thought his experience was unique or if there might be other Jews out there who feel the same as he once did. “Absolutely” he replied with an assuredness that left no room for doubt. “There’s a reason that so many Jews have an anti-‘Israel’ view. The State of ‘Israel’ offends their sense of basic decency. I definitely believe that ‘Israel’s’ actions hold back a lot Jews from exploring Judaism further.”

It is our fervent wish here at True Torah Jews that Jews wishing to take a deeper look into Judaism will not be held back by the actions of those who assume to speak for the entirety of the Jewish World. We hope that they will be able to see through the fients of the Zionist State and realize one crucial point. They are not Judaism.

“Many Jews are not Zionists and many non-Jews are. Zionism is a political movement, not a race (or religion). To say Zionism is the Jewish people is like saying the Democratic Party is the American people. Jewish people who oppose Zionism, however, have been given a very hard time.”
David Icke

True Torah Jews


Baal Teshuvah

Israel Politics

Jonathan Finkel