Several writers have begun writing lovely articles describing what their own view of Judaism means to them under the hashtag #MyJudaism. While I am a Jew and it is a core part of my identity, I have always felt Zionism played a much more formative role in my life and plays a much larger part in my thought process.


My Zionism fills me with pride. I am proud to be an Israeli citizen. A country that made it possible in just a couple of generations for the most hated, attacked and victimized people in all the world to become secure. Not only secure, we have been able to become a world leader in science and technology, law, defense, security and humanity. Israel has allowed the Jewish nation to begin to fulfill its true birthright, a birthright that has nothing to do with territory, but instead has to do with becoming a light unto all the nations, a model for the world of what a just society should look like. My Zionism is pride in a country that is becoming a beacon to the world.

My Zionism is compassion, compassion for those around the world who are in situations like we Jews were in, victims, targets, defenseless. Israel is a leader in humanitarian action around the world, we see it as a sacred duty and responsibility to help those in need, even when they are enemies. While our compassion might be ignored by many, we are often accused of white washing or green washing, this is not true, Israel doesn’t do humanitarian work for the publicity, we do it because it is an intrinsic part of Zionism and Judaism. My Zionism is compassion, reminding me to always treat others the way I want to be treated.

My Zionism is security. I don’t have to worry that my Judaism is going to make me a target anymore. My grandparents and great-grandparents had to worry about it, and growing up I did too. Now that I live in Israel, I don’t have to worry about the ugly face of antisemitism in the same way anymore. I am safe, relatively safe, living here in Israel. My Zionism is the security of knowing I don’t have to worry about being singled out anymore. I don’t have to worry about the words “Fucking Kyke” being spit at me anymore.

My Zionism is understanding. I understand that nothing ever starts out perfect, and in the history of everything that has ever worked, there was, at least sometime that it didn’t work. Everything about humanity comes back to evolution and change. Everything moves forward. No matter how dark the clouds the sun will shine again. Zionism is just like everything else, it evolves. My Zionism is not perfect, nor will it ever be, but My Zionism is always striving to be better tomorrow than it was today.

My Zionism is potential. I look at the country that Zionism created, this magical place, by no means perfect, but so unique, so powerful, so historical, so modern, so fragile, so prolific. I look at what a little more than 100 years of modern Zionism has accomplished and I can’t even imagine the ways that we will change the world in the next 100 years. My Zionism knows that what we have the most of in this world is not hate or war or bloodshed, what we have the most of in this world is potential and My Zionism is always working toward fulfilling that potential.

My Zionism is regret. We are humans and we live in a decidedly imperfect world. Israel is just like every other country, it tries to do its best. We have done amazing things here in Israel, but we have also made mistakes. One of the most amazing things about Israel is its legal system, which consistently holds the values of freedom and human rights paramount. We are introspective, we shine a light on our faults. It makes us easier to attack and criticize, but it makes us better as a people. When we recognize our faults and mistakes, we can learn and grow from them. My Zionism regrets when we don’t do the right thing, but it will learn from it to make sure we do it better the next time.

My Zionism is compromise. Zionism has always made compromises, between different Zionist visions, between Zionists and the outside world, there has always been compromise, and there should always be compromise because at the end of the day, Zionism is the vision and plan for how Jews will live, safely and securely in Israel. That also means it is a vision and plan about how Israel deals with the outside world. My Zionism is not a suicide pact, My Zionism knows that compromise is an essential part of making sure Israel is safe, secure, Jewish and democratic, now and in the future.

My Zionism is a compass in time. The goal of Zionism is to change the injustices of the past, or at least protect against them for the future. Zionism exists all throughout Jewish history, from Egypt to Babylon to Europe, Jews throughout time and throughout the world have dreamed of a life in Zion. Our history exists on a cycle of joy and pain. We look forward but also look back. Every year at Passover, we talk about how we have a shared memory, all of the Jewish people exist in all times, in all places as Jews. Just as I was a slave in Egypt, I was also redeemed, just as I sat and lamented by the rivers of Babylon, I was returned. Just as the Cossacks attacked my family, we were able to make it to Palestine and start a new life. Just as I went to the gas chambers, I heard David Ben Gurion exuberantly proclaim the independence of the modern State of Israel. Our history lives on a cycle of exile and in gathering, like a lung and air, we are repeatedly brought closer to, then pushed away from Zion. We must always look forward and look back. My Zionism is a compass that connects me to the whole of the Jewish people throughout time, connects me to our yearning and love for Israel, it connects me to the pain and heartache, but also to the joy and happiness.

My Zionism informs my entire life. It tells me how to be a righteous person. It shows me how to do good for my people and for all people. It enhances my humanity. It is my lifeblood. It is how I became who I am today. My Zionism proscribes that I always remember the past, the pain and the horror that we have experienced, but it also forces me to always look forward to the future, to the hope of a better tomorrow. My Zionism has shown me how we have changed the world for the better, and it pushes me everyday to work to make every tomorrow better than every yesterday. My Zionism is at the same time, my reality for today and my dream for tomorrow.

About the Author
Michael Hilkowitz holds degrees in History and Secondary Education from Temple University and is a graduate of the Philadelphia High School for International Affairs. Living in Israel since 2012, he serves as the Chief Content Office for The Israel Innovation Fund, a 501.c.3 working to promote Israeli culture, art, and humanities innovation abroad.