Sunday, April 19, 2015

Omer 5775. Day 15. Building Israeli Culture

A vital culture, far from being detached from life, embraces it in all its aspects. Culture is whatever life creates for living purposes: Farming, building, and road-making - any work, any craft, any productive activity is part of culture and is indeed the foundation and the stuff of culture. The procedure, the pattern, the shape, the manner in which things are done - these represent the forms of culture. Whatever people feel and think both at work and at leisure, and the relations arising from these situations, combined with the natural surroundings - all that constitutes the spirit of a people’s culture. It sustains the higher expression of culture in science and art, creeds and ideologies. The things we call culture in the most restricted sense, the higher expressions of culture (which is what is usually meant when culture is discussed in our circles) - this is the butter churned out of culture in general, in its broadest sense. But can butter be produced without milk? Or can a man make butter by using his neighbors’ milk and still call the butter all his own? (A.D. Gordon. People and Labor)

Gordon believed that Israel had to be built by working in the fields, by building Israel; not by creating theories and philosophies of Zionism. He saw Israel as created not in a "top-down" motion - from the academies and halls of learning - but "bottom-up", from the grassroots, the smell of the earth and the song of the land, the hills and valleys, the rocks and rivers. That is why Israeli culture is created by the language, by the native foods, by the scenery, the music, the climate, the flora and fauna, the cities and highways, the inventions and achievements, the politicians and generals, and the modern and ancient history of our beloved land. This is what builds our Israeli Culture.

Hodesh Tov!

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