David Novak’s Zionism and Judaism is a very personal book that deals first and foremost with its author’s own positioning on the subject matter. Novak rejects a secular, or as he calls it secularistic, interpretation of Jewishness and seeks to combine Orthodox Judaism with Zionism in a rather unorthodox fashion.

Novak begins his discussion with a figure unlikely to be claimed by Orthodox Jews. He refers to Spinoza as the first philosopher to have provided Zionism with a cogent philosophical expression. His reading of Spinoza differs substantially from that of secular Zionists like David Ben-Gurion who, in 1954, wrote to the Hakham of the Portuguese Jewish Community in Amsterdam asking that the ban of excommunication against Spinoza be repealed. In contrast to Ben-Gurion and many other Zionists, Novak does not regard Spinoza as...

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