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Freedom and Reality: Israel's Destiny

Tags: Israel Engagement, Jewish Unity

By Dr. Elana Yael Heideman

Every year as Passover comes near, my mind is filled with thoughts about the role of this holiday of freedom in our lives today.  Recounting our history takes on a whole new meaning given the world in which we live - a splintered, aching reality with humanity turned on its head. 
I can’t help but feel a small sense of pride as I think about all we at Israel Forever have done and are doing to help our people celebrate our return and promote a connection to our homeland from every corner of the world. In our effort to inspire those looking to overcome the negative influence of Jew-hatred in its many forms and the overpoliticized, overprogrammed lives we lead, we are, in some small way, offering a sense of freedom from the darkness. 

The Haggadah, so filled with references to Israel, is an amazing opportunity to reflect on this destiny - a destiny borne of freedom, of hope, and of pride.

While we all sit around our seders, reciting the story of breaking the bonds of slavery, we can only pray that as we utter the name "Israel," as we sing "L'Shana HaBa'ah B'Yerushalayim!”, all hearts are opened and their souls lifted just as in the generations before us that could only dream of Jewish freedom and a return to our homeland.

Today we have that freedom, although many remain blind or biased against it, or those convinced of the lies. While we remain fragmented by our different views and opposing ideologies, we know that the freedom of today - in Israel and around the world - is not perfect. Accepting our imperfections as the embodiment of the endless challenges faced by our nation, and our effort to always strive for something better, we at Israel Forever find comfort knowing that we are a part of the cycle of Jewish history. We are doing all we can to bring our fellow Jews closer to Israel through engagement with her reality and her destiny in a personal and meaningful way.

For those of us who live in Israel or those who live abroad, we are all equally immersed in the powerful connection to Israel representing that a relationship is possible for every Jew, anywhere in the world. Just as Menasseh ben Israel, Yehuda Kalisher, Somlenshik, Hess, Pinsker, Herzl, Nordau and so many others (how many do you know of? And your children? grandchildren???) have done in the generations past , so, too, will we continue the tradition of ensuring that Israel - both the dream and the reality - is forever.

This Passover, reflect on your own connection to Israel and why you want the next generation to appreciate the integrity with which our ancestors dreamt, built and sustained our Zionist dream.

As we remember Passover

Consider what you are doing to ensure that our Jewish rights and freedom are a part of how we understand and fulfill our lives and identities as Jews. How do you express yourself as a virtual citizen of your national birthright? How are you helping inspire others who are questioning their connection as Jews because of the tense realities surrounding us?

Working together, collaboratively, with individual educators, community leaders, and whole organizations who are increasingly seeing the value of our work, we see that what we offer is what many have been searching for - resources to foster the knowledge, the connection, the unity we all say we wish we saw in the Jewish world. And I am so proud to have the opportunity to lead such a passionate and driven group of people dedicated to creating the best materials and resources for Israel engagement that we can - offering unique ways of deepening and strengthening the personal relationship to Israel for every Jew, of every age and area of interest.

Our own appreciation of Israel and our hopes are strengthened by the unique work of kiruv that we do - for we know that every outreach, every blog, every call to action is but one way that we are helping our people to quash the rising flames around us while deepening the meaning of "Am Yisrael Chai!" In the face of the hate. So let us stand up and, just as we declare our commitment to Jerusalem each year at the seder, we each can choose to help our fellow Jews feel confident to declare every day that we are ZION PROUD as Virtual Citizens of Israel by sharing Israel’s freedom, reality, destiny and dream.

We at Israel Forever carry out the important task of aiding our people embrace and celebrate our communal history, heritage, homeland and destiny. Please consider making a donation to our important work, so that we can continue to provide the stories, the resources, the inspiration, the virtual connection with our home, our hearts, our Israel.

Chag Herut Sameach - Happy Passover, our holiday of freedom.

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About the Author

Dr.  Elana Yael Heideman
Dr. Elana Yael Heideman, Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, is a dynamic and passionate educator who works creatively and collaboratively in developing content and programming to deepen and activate the personal connection to Israel for Diaspora Jews. Elana’s extensive experience in public speaking, educational consulting and analytic research and writing has served to advance her vision of Israel-inspired Jewish identity that incorporates the relevance of the Holocaust, Antisemitism and Zionism to contemporary issues faced throughout the Jewish world in a continuous effort to facilitate dialogue and build bridges between the past, present and future.

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Tags: Israel Engagement, Jewish Unity

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