Many have heard the name, some still wondering what it is all about.
“Israel Forever” is like a cliche that emerges from one’s lips. It is posted on Facebook and Twitter in response to current events or as an expression of one’s love and commitment to Israel. But for some, “Israel Forever” has come to embody a new movement in celebrating the personal connection to Israel for Jews all over the world.
The Israel Forever Foundation was founded in 2002 by Richard and Phyllis Heideman, active leaders in the Jewish world for many years who have been tirelessly fighting for Israel during times of war and times of peace, promoting the values of a positive relationship with the Jewish State to their daughters, their friends and their community. At its inception, their mission was to highlight the rich contributions of Israel to the world and civilization to help improve Israel’s image in the world.
Involved in the creation of a handful of meaningful programs and partnerships, including The March Of The Living, Carmel Relief Fund, StandWithUs, Student Conference on International Law, etc. Click here for more information on our partner organziations.
It wasn’t until 2011 that Dr. Elana Heideman took over the foundation to revamp the mission and goals to reflect a most relevant agenda that would meet the needs and demands of posed by the current relationship with Israel for Jews around the world: a reminder of the importance of moving beyond the politics, reaching those turned off by the focus on advocacy and debate, and building a meaningful relationship with our one and only Jewish state that could resonate to people of all different ideologies, all levels of observance, all ages, all places in the world.
Having just completed her PhD under the mentorship of Professor Elie Wiesel, Elana wanted to utilize the passion for Israel that had always lived within her. For 18 years she had been focused on the transmission of Holocaust memory, but had always balanced that with her activism in the Jewish world and Zionism. Her experience as an educator led her to recognize patterns of disconnect that needed to be repaired for the sake of the Jewish world and the communal connection with Israel. The result: the creation of Israel Engagement as a new trend in cultivating that essential connection that Jews have held throughout history.
There are indeed thousands of organizations, websites, and social networks that are involved in some way with Israel. But the uniqueness of Israel Forever is that it taps into an essential reality that is referenced in articles and blogs and mainstream media: the Jewish world lacks a relationship to Israel outside of the news, politics, advocacy, hasbara, or even the amazing advances achieved by Israelis in technology, medicine and historical research. People need and deserve to be reminded that there is a value to having a bit of Israel in their lives, even if they cannot or are not yet inclined to hop on over for a visit.
With the media dominated by conflict, hatred by our enemies, and the onslaught of delegitimization efforts worldwide and even amongst our Jewish People, few are taking the time to remember that a love of Israel, pride in Israel, respect for Israel are based upon our ability to relate to Israel from a distance. The Israel Forever Foundation seeks to bridge the geographical gap by offering people a way to feel connected, with Israel and with others who share that connection, in a virtual and meaningful way.
A quick review of the Israel Forever website, it is clear that every initiative is the result of passion and creativity. Dr. Heideman and her small team continue to explore ways that people can foster a dynamic and engaging relationship with the ancient home of the Jewish people. Every story, every blog post offers something personal that does, indeed, inspire Israel.