The word “Israel” has multiple meanings and associations. The author discusses the intentional ambiguity of three terms associated with Israel – am (people), eretz (land), and le’om (nation) – signifying a rootedness in a particular geographic locale and the aspiration that all Jews are part of the Jewish collective regardless of where they live. She argues that the intentionality of the ambiguity conveys a clear message for Israel’s raison d’être; to be the national homeland for the Jewish people. She considers the multiple meanings in connection to the next generation of American Jews and leadership. Based on several years of discussions with rabbinical and education students at Hebrew Union College, she highlights core tensions around the concept of Klal Yisrael, connoting Jewish peoplehood without connection to nationhood. She suggests that the tensions may be irreconcilable or may require political and educational action to resolve.

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