Connecting to a Far Away Country

Post by Melissa

This week we celebrate two very big days for Israel, Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) and Yom Ha’Zicaron (Israeli Remembrance Day – think Memorial Day and Veterans day rolled together, and actually celebrated), and by we, I mean Jewish communities worldwide.

I teach in my synagogue’s religious school, and this morning we had a party for Yom Ha’Atzmaut. I attempted to prep my students by discussing Israel in a positive light. Reading a story about a boy who dreamed of planting trees in Israel after learning about a relative who was one of the early Zionists. Showing photos of Israel and reading about the sights. Having students who had visited the country or had heard stories from their parents who had visited, and in one case  gotten engaged, in Israel share the stories and experiences.  Yet none of this seemed to really drive home any message.  While they really enjoyed singing and eating cake, and the extra Israeli snacks I had brought in – the point of it being from Israel seemed lost on so many of them.  Half of them even drew five pointed stars on their Israeli flags, even though my aid and I corrected them and I had an Israeli flag hanging in the front of the room.

So my question for you faithful readers, is in this time of celebration and commemoration – how do you connect your daily life, to that of those in Israel?  How can we impart the beauty and value of this country on those who have not yet had a chance to visit or intellectually comprehend the importance of having a Jewish state?

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4 thoughts on “Connecting to a Far Away Country

  1. I have to be honest and say that I don’t connect my daily life to Israel, and I’m a little nervous to admit that. When I was a fellow at a Jewish non-profit in DC (for a year after graduation), I explored in-depth why my connection to Israel wasn’t stronger. I’ve been there on a Birthright trip, I’ve grown up Jewish (and therefore I’ve been steeped in pro-Israel messages for YEARS), why do I feel more connection to Eastern Europe than I feel for Israel?

    I wish I could say I have it all figured out, but the best I can do is fake it for the sake of my religious school students (who are, quite seriously, way more pro-Israel than I am!). I have no clue why I feel this way, and it makes me feel like I’m cut off from the rest of the Jewish people. I know I can’t be the only person who feels this way, but it sometimes seems like it.

  2. Oh, and at that fellowship, the founder-director told me that I couldn’t be a “really good Jew” (more or less in those words) without a significant connection to Israel as a modern state (not just as a liturgical construct). This is what has been bugging me for the past 8 years…

    • I was the poster child for what you are saying was your experience when I was in college. My university has one of the worst Anti-Israel/Anti-Zionist/Anti-Jewish Muslim/Arab communities around. All I have to do is say the name of the university and people in the know flinch. I was the token “you can be Jewish and not be majorly pro-Israel” person in all of our debates and discussions with administration to attempt to get the point across about what they were doing being Anti-Semetic and not just free speech… {Sorry, that got kind of long, but short point is: I feel you!}

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