Women of Israel: Phyllis Greenberg Heideman
By Ariana Heideman
The woman who has had the most influence on me and my commitment to Israel and the Jewish people is none other than my ima, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman.
People often ask how I came to be such a Zionist, and I tell them, you obviously haven’t met my mother if you have to ask me that question. It was never a choice for my sisters and me, as our mother has lived and breathed Israel since the day she was born, just before Israel herself was declared a State.
When I went off to college, like many teenagers, I struggled with my identity, and I declared to my mom that I wanted to break away from my sheltered Jewish upbringing and support other causes that are so important in the world. My mother told me plain and simple:
“There are millions of people in the world who have the ability to direct their attention towards various global issues of great importance. But we are Jews and it is our responsibility to fight the Jewish fight.”
Four years later, my mother cried as she helped me pack my bags and sent me on a flight to Tel Aviv to get my Israeli citizenship.
It was the early 2000’s, sandwiched between the Second Intifada and The Disengagement; so you can only imagine how difficult that must have been for any mother to watch her baby daughter board a plane and head off to what many would call a foreign land.
But with the full support of my mom (and dad), Israel has never been a foreign land. Instead, it is a second home where my family and I can walk and talk and laugh and explore our souls.
One of the most important lessons about Israel my mom taught me was that when the time came for me to leave, to return to the US to attend graduate school and further my career, that it was ok me for me to leave.
Thanks to my mom, I never have to miss Israel for too long because she has always made the homeland such a vital part of our daily lives and given her a place in my heart that follows me everywhere I go.
Ariana Heideman is the Associate Director of The Israel Forever Foundation. As an Israel enthusiast, passionate about the future of the State of Israel and the Jewish People, Ariana devotes her personal and professional life working and volunteering with various Jewish and Israel organizations around the world.