A few months ago I wrote a review of New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch Spinoza here on the blog. This excellent play is now on at the Jewish Community Center in Dupont Circle – for those of you in the greater Washington, DC area, it’s running until April and you should see it! An excellent review by Eve Tushnet is available here as well.
At the JCC production last night, I learned that David Ben-Gurion – a lifelong student of Spinoza’s philosophy – petitioned the Israeli rabbinical court in 1953 to reverse the excommunication of Spinoza. He was preceded by a line of secular Zionists seeking to argue that, in the modern context, the conflict between Spinoza and the Jewish community no longer matters, and his ideas are no longer a threat to being a Jew – insofar as most Jews’ religious beliefs are much closer to what was considered at the time to be Spinoza’s atheism.
If enough Jews accept Christianity, will the surviving Zionist activists appeal to the Israeli court to reverse the case of Father Daniel? Somehow I doubt it.