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Worshiping The State Of Israel At A Leading New York Synagogue

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
December 2020

At Park Avenue Synagogue, a prominent Conservative synagogue in New York  
City, the Yom Kippur service featured the rabbi offering a mini sermon about  
his son’s proud service in the Israel Defense Forces, saying it shows that  
Israel is the true Jewish home. He then had the (virtual) synagogue stand  
for Israel’s national anthem. Israel, rather than God, clearly appeared to  
be the object of worship.  
Mondoweiss (October 5, 2020) reports: “Rabbi Neil Zuckerman breaks into the  
liturgy to explain the meaning of the Jewish exile. Then he tells of his son  
joining the Israeli army. ‘Because of our sins we were exiled from the land,  
the liturgy says. Jews have always been able to survive the pain and trauma  
of exile by never looking away, by always orienting ourselves toward the  
land of Israel, by facing home.’”  
The rabbi told his congregation, “A story captures what it means to be home.  
In the course of my son’s training in the IDF, he was recognized as an  
outstanding exemplary soldier at a ceremony that took place a few months  
ago. A big honor, we are very proud of him. He told me that they came in  
from the desert to rehearse for the ceremony, and that’s when he found out  
he was receiving this honor...In the rehearsal, he went up to his platoon  
leader, the commanding officer described the award and said it was going to  
Jacob Zuckerman from New York. After the rehearsal he went up to his platoon  
leader a little agitated and said to him, ‘I am not Jacob Zuckerman from New  
York. I made aliyah. I’m in the IDF. My destiny is wrapped up with the  
destiny of the Jewish state. I am Jacob Zuckerman from Kibbutz Maori Haim.’”  
The rabbi concluded, “yes, we were exiled from the land, but we have never  
lost our hope that we would return home and we have. Please rise if you’re  
able to for the Hatikvah.” The cantor then sings the Israeli national anthem  
with reverence. **

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