I can’t get something Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid said out of my head.
It was during a pre-trip session for a Washington, DC leadership training mission to Israel and “the most influential Jew in the world” told a group of us young professionals that we are all so unbelievably lucky to be Jewish. I’ve heard this before, but his argument really resonated. He said that people all over the world spend their entire lives trying to belong to something. It’s this intrinsic part of human nature that reflects our desire to be a part of a special group and this is why people join clubs, join social groups, join sports teams, make political allegiances, and, in desperation, even join cults.
However, we Jews, we are lucky enough to be born into a club, a club more special than any social group or political movement, and we have a lifetime membership. It’s a legion of elite mathematicians, scientists, warriors, and thinkers that have shaped the world for thousands of years and has limitless capabilities to keep doing so.
I look around the room and realized that we 25 Jews are even luckier. We have been anointed to be leaders within that powerful, special group.
I have carried this sentiment with me throughout the trip and it particularly resonated as we walked through the Palmach museum.
The Israeli war for independence was a different time and a different place, but it was fought and won by same special club of Jews with their own leaders – many younger than us. And as we walked from room to room, following the storyline of obstacles and adversity the Palmachniks faced, I learned one of the most profound lessons of my life. They overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles from their lack of food, money, and supplies, to the tangled web of weapons smuggling, to the delicate negotiations of international politics, and finally to the repulsion of half a dozen Arab armies and a fifth column from within, I had the requisite revelation I have every time I come here.
Look at this beautiful country, from the bustling beaches and bars to the quiet homes behind every Israeli flag. The Palmachniks created all of this. And they created this from nothing, under war, under poverty, and under tremendous internal turmoil.
After this trip, we return to our community. Again, it’s a different time and a different place, but we have the same special club of Jews that we also have the ability to galvanize and lead. And if that past group of leaders can accomplish such a miraculous feat in utter crisis, imagine what we can do with our special group during peace and prosperity.