The antidote to the violence- we need to empower our young people with purpose and roots.

“What is happening to us” Israelis are asking as we learn of yet another senseless slaying perpetrated by young people. How can we stop this? Is there an antidote?

Young people are our most important resource- and we are wasting that resource. Why do we accept as if there was no alternative that school is a chore- everyone who has ever watched a baby grow, knows that what naturally excites them is learning new skills. They ask “why” all the time because they want to know about everything. Why are we allowing that instinct to be snuffed out by boredom? Why aren’t we insisting intransigently that the education we are paying a lot of tax dollars for challenges and excites? And maybe most importantly, why are we so immersed in being politically correct and universal that we have neglected to teach our children our own heritage and values? Why are we so busy pointing out who we are not, that we spend little or no time defining for ourselves and our children who we are.

Yesterday morning, as the media resounded with experts giving their opinions on what is happening to our young people, I was on my way to the Arlozorov (Savidor) train station in Tel Aviv, representing the organization “Eretz Nehederet” (not the TV satire) to collect a group of 32 young Israelis: recently demobilized IDF combat soldiers, who had signed up for our10 day fully subsidized trip throughout Israel, as a Matnat Shichrur- IDF demobilization gift. Eretz Nehederet [Wonderful Land] has chosen to express “thank you” to these former soldiers by giving them the gift of their heritage as a good time.  This is our second group of recently demobilized soldiers that will be experiencing an intensive immersive 10 days together, exploring Israel. By exposing them to excellent guides and fascinating people working to affect Israel in their own unique way, these young people will be in a position to delineate their own Zionist heritage and values.  We will reiterate for them again and again throughout the trip that our roots in Israel are ancient and thriving, and that our unique search for values as a people since ancient times is something of which we can justly be proud.

If Eretz Nehederet’s past experience in the first “Matnat Shichrur” program is any measure, the surprise of the participants when they find that they are not bored but rather intrigued and excited, will be a joy to watch. The participants join the trip looking for fun and meeting peers: while that certainly happens, they find themselves engaged and interested, and often downright enthralled.

The antidote to the violence- we need to empower our young people with purpose and roots.  There are organizations like ours engaged in doing just that- clearly not enough.