At Hillel, Tzionut – Zionism is a core Jewish value: “We believe in the importance of Israel, Zionism and the Hebrew language. The modern State of Israel is a place where Jewish values come to life, and a home for Jews from around the world. We see spiritual meaning in the existence of the state, and are proud of its continued growth.”
Today is Yom Ha-atzma’ut, Israel Independence Day. On this day, Hillel students spend the day engaged in all sorts of activities celebrating the modern state of Israel and its 67th anniversary. We end the day with a big carnival for the entire family!
Why? Because it is vitally important to celebrate the existence of Israel and its all-encompassing importance to the Jewish people.
We are proud to be a school that has at its core the love of Israel and our unwavering support for Israel, regardless of the ever-changing political climate. As Jews, we should, without question, be tireless supporters of Israel and be vocal about its right to exist within secure borders, free from the fear of terrorist attacks or annihilation from a terrorist state determined to become a nuclear power.
As American Jews, we can have our opinions about Israeli politics and how the government handles its affairs. Whether you are a supporter of the current prime minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, and the Likud party, or any other political party, the reality is that the issues confronting Israel are complex. There are some truths, however, that are undeniable, and chief among them is Israel’s right to exist, and the verifiable need for Israel to exist for the protection of Jews throughout the world.
My love for Israel is like my love for a family member — unconditional. That is not to say I always agree with the decisions of the government. I don’t. But since I do not live in Israel, and since my children are not put at mortal risk by serving in the Israeli army, I don’t get a vote. Instead, I use my voice to encourage the American government to never turn its back on Israel, and I use my position as Head of School to promote a positive awareness of Israel and a love of Israel among the Jewish people. God knows Israel has enough detractors and enemies throughout the world. There are plenty of people eager to point out Israel’s shortcomings.
Like all nations, Israel is an imperfect country. Its leaders make mistakes. An idealized version of Israel does not exist – and maybe it shouldn’t. At the same time, it is also an amazing country – rich in history, culture, meaning, and world-leading innovation. It is the home of the story of the Jewish people. It is the spiritual center of the Jewish people. It is the one country in the Middle East that is a democracy.
Truth is complex and multi-layered. Israel provokes much passion among Jews and the world community. I, for one, stand with Israel, and I am proud that we teach a love for and a pride in the State of Israel at Hillel. We, as Jews, must stand up for Israel and demand fairness and balance in the court of public opinion, and more importantly, in the development of American policies towards Israel; something we, as Americans, can influence.
The more we stress Tzionut, the greater our children’s personal connection to the State of Israel, its history and our people. In this way, we help our students to find their voice in support of Israel, now and in the future.