Radio interview (Transcript)

Hadad: “We now move to our next item. We do nםt often cover books here in the program. Not because it is not interesting, but because it is not news, but this book possibly connects to the spirit of our time.

A new book by Gol Kalev under the interesting title, Judaism 3.0, raises a big question mark, and maybe by now, already no longer a question mark, but an exclamation point about the face of Judaism and its connection to Israel as arguably the most profound and meaningful expression of it in 2022. The author of the book, Gol Kalev, good morning.”

Kalev: “Good morning”

Hadad: “Give me the synopsis of the book in a moment, for the benefits of those who do not have the book in-front of them, and can not flip to its back-cover”

Kalev: “I am arguing in the book that, as you said, Judaism is going through a historic transformation. I show that both Jews and non-Jews connect to Judaism through Zionism, whether it is in the positive or negative. Whether it is through support of opposition, Zionism has turned into the most relevant aspect of Judaism.”

Hadad: “And that determination of this transformation – it is interesting that you are saying it is happening now, 75 years after the establishment of the state. Why did it not happen in 1948, or in 1967 – to use those war years as a milestone – that were meaningful on shaping the consciousness. What happened now that causes this?”

Kalev: “First, when Herzl planted the seeds for this transformation, he recognized that processes like this take a very long time. Same with the previous transformation of Judaism, which 2,000 years ago shifted from being about the Temple, the ritual of sacrifices and the physical presence in Jerusalem. That transformation also took a long time. It took centuries to turn into Judaism 2.0 which anchor was Rabbinic Judaism – the synagogue replaced the Temple, the Jewish community replaced the physical presence in Judea – that took centuries.   A global shift of consciousness of what Judaism is takes a long time.

But in addition there were hurdles in Israel’s first 70 years that prevented this. For example, Zionism was associated with secularism and rejection of religion. And this is not due to what Herzl and his friends planned in the Zionist Congress and in Zionism’s first years. It is because as Zionism exited the mind of Herzl and turned into a mass global Jewish movement, there were various parties and the party of Ben-Gurion that won elections and shaped Zionism in the 1930s onwards, was a revolutionary movement that took Zionism into a particular direction. Therefore, Zionism was very much associated with secularism in Israel’s first 70 years. But I show in the book how now there are two parallel process – a democratization of sort in Israel: shift of power and Zionist ethos from the secular minority to the religious and traditional majority, as well as a religious resurgence amongst the seculars.”

Hadad: “But you are saying, in spite of the event of the formation of the state – of Israel as the land of Israel, as a state, which is a unique idea. Look, US Jewry, in large parts of its Reform, Conservative and unaffiliated wings, have gone far away from Israel, also as an idea. Israel has turned into a burden on their very liberal values. So I am putting them for a moment on the side. Part of them are just disassociated [From Israel]. Take Mark Zuckerberg, I don’t know what his grandmother and grandfather did, but I assume their attitude towards the State of Israel was much more supportive than his own, I don’t think he ever visited Israel as Marc Zuckerberg. Ok, I opened a brackets, closed brackets. You agree so far?”

Kalev: “Not exactly. Because I think Israel remains the most dominant Jewish feature in the life of an American Jew, but it is now in the negative. For example, many of my American friends, who do not go to synagogue and do not think of the holocaust in the same way as in the past, because their grandparents are not holocaust survivors. They do not eat GefilteFish and Judaism does not play a key role in their arsenal of identities. But Israel does. So if they read an article about the settlements and get upset, they write a post on facebook: “As a Jew, I am embarrassed”. Israel is what brings the Jew to his Judaism. Not to mention that if your name is Zuckerberg or Goldenberg and you come to college campus, someone tells you “your people are murdering the Palestinians” – you have to react. You can say, I agree, I disagree. One way or another, Israel and Zionism pulls the American Jew back into his Judaism, and by the way, this is exactly what Herzl identified with the anti-Semitism movement that was rising in his time: Anti-Semitism pulls the Jew back into his Judaism.”

Hadad: “So in concluding words to end, Gol – and this is such a broad topic – there is something in the global attitude towards Judaism though Israel, as you are claiming, that allows people to package a lot of anti-Semitic sentiments through anti-Israel reasonings: Israel is occupation and controversial and things along this nature that the world can deal with, without feeling it touches anti-semitism. Right?”

Kalev: “Correct. This is exactly the consequences of the book. In the first two-thirds of the book I describe what we just spoke about. I demonstrate that Zionism is becoming the anchor of Judaism thorough analysis of the world’s relations to Judaism and the Jews relations to Judaism. But at the end of the book I talk about what you just mentioned – what does it mean:

In the past it was popular to say I hate Jews, that I am an anti-Semites. It was a normative movement. Herzl had Semitic friends and he accepted them. Today it is not ‘in‘. You are not allowed to say you hate Jews, but you can say you are against Zionism and bash Israel.

Once you recognize that Judaism is transforming and Zionism is becoming the anchor of Judaism, you can no longer hide by saying you love the Jews, and hate the Zionists.”

Hadad: “Fascinating, fascinating, fascinating. Gol Kalev. The book is Judaism 3.0. Thank you very much for talking to us

Kalev: “Thank you”

Hadad: “All the best. Goodbye”

“Kalev picks up where Herzl left off……A must read for people of all religious and political backgrounds who want to get a deeper understanding of the state of Zionism and Judaism today.”

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem

“This book should play an important role in the discussions about the future of world Jewry and its relations with Israel.”

Natan Sharansky,  former Chairman of The Jewish Agency, former Deputy Prime Minister of Israel

Gol Kalev does not just know Theodor Herzl – he lives and breathes Theodor Herzl…This book should trigger the conversation the Jewish community needs about Israel, Zionism, Judaism and Identity. Bravo! 

Professor Gil Troy, author -The Zionist Ideas

ייA remarkable ideas book that is about much more than the state of Judaism….One of the most important books about Judaism, Zionism and global trends of our times.”

Catherine Carlton, former Mayor of Menlo Park, Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur

“A courageous, compelling, and thoughtful thesis that must be part of any serious discussion of the future of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Michael Oren, historian, former Ambassador of Israel to the United States

The book was selected by the Jerusalem Report as the cover of its 2022 New Year Magazine

Watch Gol Kalev discuss Judaism 3.0 with Emily Frances on i24

Book’s website:


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