It’s time to celebrate. We spend so much time agonizing about Israel — its security, its future, its policies, its role in our lives and the lives of our children — that we don’t take nearly enough time to bask in the glory of its achievements, its culture and what it truly means to have a Jewish state.
On Sunday, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, as it does every year, is throwing a big party to celebrate Israel’s 66th birthday. Featured will be an Israeli cultural icon, David Broza, along with a newcomer, Ayala Ingedashet, the first Ethiopian-born Israeli to land a major record deal.
Beyond the artists and the vendors and the kid-friendly activities, the event at Penn’s Landing provides a special opportunity to come together as a community. Regardless of political, religious or familial status, this is one event where we can stand united in our solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people.
The fact that we can publicly celebrate Israel and vote in primary elections in the same week (don’t forget: May 20 is primary election day) is the strongest evidence possible that we American Jews live proudly and openly, identifying strongly with twin parts of our identity.
The old canards of dual loyalty still exist, as a just-released Anti-Defamation League survey of anti-Semitic attitudes around the world shows. In fact, the most commonly held stereotype among the ADL’s list of indicators was that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their home country — a view held by 41 percent of respondents worldwide. But here in America, we can dismiss — and work against — such attitudes. One way to do that is to show that being a proud American and a proud Jew should and must include a strong link with Israel.
Of course, coming out for one day a year is not enough. We need to work hard to educate our next generations about Israeli history and its culture. We need to encourage and support trips to Israel among teenagers, college students and young professionals.
That doesn’t mean we need to gloss over the complexities and challenges the Jewish state faces on a regular basis. But it does mean that we take special pride when we read, as in this week’s cover story, about a trio of Israelis who are literally shooting for the moon as they compete for a $20 million Google prize. Or that Israel is one of a handful of nations assisting in the hunt for some 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria.
So come and show that Jewish pride on Sunday. And don’t forget to stop by the Jewish Exponent booth, play “Spin the Wheel” and win some great prizes.
Of course we’re a proud sponsor of the event. We wouldn’t miss this party — and you shouldn’t either!