How Are You a Part of Saving Israel?

Tags: Books, People and Society, Zionism, Judaism, Israel Engagement, Elana Heideman

By Dr. Elana Yael Heideman

One of the first pictures of Jews praying at the Western Wall

Israel is the embodiment of Jewish survival, Jewish recovery, Jewish being and the Jewish future.

When I first picked up Daniel Gordis’ Saving Israel, I was stunned by the fact that a decade had passed since he wrote it. It was the end of the summer and the missiles were still falling on our people, our land. The world’s hatred against us had grown so much in the last few years that they were convinced that, no matter what, Israel was always at fault.

It was some of Gordis’ first questions that made me smile, for they raised the very issues that we at Israel Forever aim to confront. “Of much greater importance than asking whether israel can continue to exist is examining the question of why Israel’s survival might matter in the first place. What has Israel done for the Jewish people? How has Israel changed Jewish life not only inside the Jewish state, but around the world?”

With every blog post, program and campaign, we strive to encourage our community of Virtual Citizens of Israel all across the globe to consider the personal perspectives of people trying to answer the question of WHY ISRAEL?

Whether one agrees or disagrees with each analysis or anecdote isn’t what matters. Rather, we know how important it is to listen, to hear, to consider the reasons why Israel IS an integral part of our identity, our lives, and, yes, even our fears.

As Gordis points out, many Diaspora Jews, and even some Israelis struggle with the issues that a strong Jewish state faces. Time and time again, we see that we must always be ready to fight for our survival - even if it means disregarding the persuasive tendency to hide our pride away for the sake of political and social correctness or international opinion. The rising threat around us today has an even greater power.

“The direct assault that Israel is now under by the Arabs via appeals to the world community. This co-ordinated effort aims to delegitimize the Jewish state and cause it to be treated as an international pariah, whose products and scholars will be boycotted and ostracized from the international community.”

We have yet to discover the antedote for this form of hate. But I, for one, agree with Gordis that for Israel to survive Israel's people - ALL of the nation of Israel - need to rebuild our WILL to survive. Secular Jews must rebuild some kind of connection to their faith and traditions, religious Jews to the Nation of Israel as a whole, and Diaspora Jews to the uniqueness and relevance of a Jewish State.

We as Jews need to realize that we are continuously forced into wars, and that each one is a war in defence of survival of the Jewish people. Rather than being a contradiction to Jewish values, it is a necessity, reiterated by each war in Jewish history from the beginning of our people here in THIS land nearly 4000 years ago. We must also accept that the alternative would mean national suicide, what many are so hesitant to call a second Holocaust, and that the world (and yes, many Jews) will barely blink an eye if Israel WERE to be wiped off the map.

Jews both in Israel and the Diaspora need an ongoing reminder that we ALL have responsibility to save Israel, and that the more we embrace this, the easier it will be for us to rediscover the sense of peoplehood that is necessary for Israel and world Jewry to survive.

Daniel Gordis

A decade ago, Gordis tried to remind us that our peoplehood matters. That it is our responsibility to find a way to answer the ultimate question about why Israel matters to us - as Jews, as parents, as students and teachers, as a community.

If we indeed plan on saving Israel, we must all take part in the act - not by pointing fingers and screaming “not your way!” But by saying “let us find the way together.” Maybe then we can achieve the unity that we claim and which we must continue to pursue.

Dr. Elana Yael Heideman, Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, is a dynamic and passionate educator who works creatively and collaboratively to create a stronger voice for future Jewish leadership. An independent lecturer and educational consultant, Elana’s range of activities demonstrate the intensity of her commitment to incorporating understanding of and respect for the history of the Jewish People. Through her involvement with numerous programs, projects and lectures, Elana continually seeks to facilitate dialogue and build bridges between the past, present and future.

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Tags: Books, People and Society, Zionism, Judaism, Israel Engagement, Elana Heideman

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