Israel is on my mind. Truthfully, Israel is often on my mind. Half of my family lives there. My nieces and nephews are serving in the Israel Defense Forces. So many people who I love dearly live there. It is hard not to be thinking about Israel, particularly when the country has been under fire, on every front.
Israel is a beautifully diverse country in every way and mirrors the diversity and complexity of our Jewish world. A national pastime in Israel is debate, pretty much about anything. Israelis have the knack to be able to disagree and then hug it out at the end of the discussion. They recognize that even in differences—really significant differences—they share a love of the country.
Like all countries, Israel is not perfect. Just like in the United States, individuals may agree or disagree about policies and positions. But because both our countries are democracies, there is space for debate and disagreement. However, I believe strongly that there is a difference between disagreement and divisiveness. Sadly, the topic of Israel has become divisive in Jewish communities across the U.S.
Israel should be a rallying and unifying force, our North Star. Yet, from all sides, it is pulling us apart. This is particularly troublesome right now because our Jewish community needs to be united. There are so many outside forces trying to hurt and discredit us. They are using anti-Zionism and old antisemitic tropes in new ways to build hatred. Now is the time that we must stick together, talk with one another, support each other, and help each other, even when we disagree, especially when we disagree. And we know we always disagree.
We learned in our Every Voice Counts survey that our community wants real and honest dialogue. We also know that it is critical that we create productive opportunities to learn about and discuss our homeland. Again, we may not always agree, but we must engage with one another productively and constructively.
Our Federation clearly stands as an organization that supports and promotes Israel and Zionism. I am proud of how the Jewish Federation celebrates Israel, provides steadfast support, and offers a multitude of opportunities to connect in truly meaningful and important ways. It’s a primary reason I have dedicated my career to the Jewish Federation. Here are just a few of the things we are involved in locally: