Israel in my Blood
By Ben Shabat
I am a true advocate for Israel - it's in my blood.
My father was born and raised in Israel, his parents originally from Iraq. If Israel did not exist for my grandparents to flee to, I would not be here today.
I believe that the challenge today is for every Jew to choose for him or her self what it means to be Jewish. For most of us here in the United States, there is no external struggle with defining what it is to be Jewish. That is, we do not have disputes with our neighbors over our religious beliefs.
The difficulty is for us to include Judaism into a life where the majority of people around us do not really care whether or not you are Jewish. The significance and symbolism of the word ‘Jew’ is suddenly placed on every one of us.
So, when I sit with my friends who are not Jewish, I find myself explaining to them what certain Jewish traditions are or what certain Hebrew words mean. Sometimes they ask me, and sometimes I tell them because it is on my mind and seems relevant to the conversation.
Israel is a spectacular country that serves a unique role in today's global community. It is a symbol of strength, resilience, democracy, equality, and justice in a region that is overwhelmed by inequality and instability. Israel deserves to be recognized for the positive contributions it makes to the rest of the world. We need to make sure that all people understand how the history of the Jews and Israel is complex.
Israel not only needs advocates, we need people who take Israel personally. A Jew’s and an Israeli's life today is a multifaceted one. I am proud to be joining the Israel Forever team as an intern - to foster interactive learning and connection and to try to make a positive impact in how people see Israel as relevant to their lives.