Democracy in Action
Each Jew that votes in an election in the country in which they live probably does so with a similar set of concerns, among them, will the next president or prime minister be good for the country? As a Jewish American, my concerns are twofold: Will the next president by good for America AND Israel?
Some people have responded to that with, “You live in America, that should be your only concern”. I strongly disagree.
As a Jew, Israel is my homeland, the place where my heritage was shaped. As an American, I recognize that Israel is one of our strongest allies in the world and the only democracy in the Middle East. Is that a cliche? Maybe. But it is also the truth.
Ideals like democracy still matter. It’s what the leaders of both countries fought for, freedom from tyranny, freedom of religion, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I feel grateful to have been born in the United States where living my Jewish values have always been a part of my life. My family has always lived in neighborhoods surrounded by people of various religions and backgrounds. There are three synagogues around the block from my house, but there is also a church. A few blocks away there is a mosque. You can take a walk through my area any time of the year and know what season it is based on the decorations my neighbors put up. There are countless examples of houses that exhibit sukkah’s and chanukiah’s next to houses that always hang pretty Christmas decorations or symbols from the wide variety of religious and cultural backgrounds that make up what it means to be an American.
So, can someone be a proud American and a passionate Virtual Citizen of Israel™? Can one live and work in America but loudly declare their pride in Israel? Yes, without question.
I would say that it is not only legitimate for every Israel-connected American Jew to identify as a VCI, but to do so is living the very essence of what it means to be an American. Living as a patriot in the United States allows for, and even encourages, maintaining deep connections to our cultural and religious background. We see this with a variety of cultures and ethnicities that live in the melting pot that is American society. Therefore, accepting our civic responsibility as a part of the Jewish nation, bound to our Jewish state, is or should be integral to how we live, identify, and act.
The stronger our ties are to our past the more fully we can live in the present and future. Israel Forever’s Virtual Citizen of Israel global Jewish community might just be the missing link so many of us are looking for - as a Jew, as citizens of the world, and as expression of our dual allegiance by demonstrating that the two need not be mutually exclusive.
As we witness democracy in action - in the US, in Israel, in Britain, and elsewhere around the world - we, the Jewish nation, can affirm that we are proudly accepting our responsibility wherever we may live in the world.
If you cherish your rights as a citizen, and the democracy we all hold dear, sign on today as a VCI and join the growing number of people in North America and in 31 countries around the world who are declaring their pride to be part of the Jewish nation.
Something to think about
1.How do you demonstrate your pride as an American while still being a passionate Virtual Citizen of Israel™?
2. Compare and contrast how democracy is practiced in Israel vs. America.
3. What can you do to encourage your friends and family to be engaged with Israel?
Heidi Krizer Daroff enjoys sharing her passion for Israel with others as North America Director of The Israel Forever Foundation. While her passport indicates that she does not reside in Israel, her heart definitely does. Through her storytelling, Heidi invites you to grow your involvement and add more Israel Forever into your daily life.