Diaspora Jews Should Lean into Israel with Love
When I think of Israel, I think – family. I think love. I think home. I think The Startup Nation. I think 4,000 years of our people’s connection to Eretz Yisrael – to the land of milk and honey and a guiding light unto all nations.
Israel is family. And this family has certainly been strained recently.
White. Black. Sephardi. Mizrahi. Left. Right. Orthodox. Conservative. Reform. Reconstructionist. My brothers. My sisters. My non-binary cousins. It doesn’t matter how you identify. You are family.
Diaspora. Israeli. We are family.
We the Jewish people, the global Jewish community, cannot and will not be distanced from each other by any classification that we give ourselves or that is imposed upon us.
Family is family. Love is love.
Policy and political debates will come and go – so will our elected and appointed leaders — but we should ALL be there for Israel in the good times, the bad times, and the times in-between.
I will continue to lean in with love to Israel. And I hope that all Diaspora Jews join me. Now is not the time to lean out.
I believe strongly that the most tangible way that a Jew in the Diaspora or any other Zionist can support Israel is to move there. And the second most tangible way is to support the nation economically. I choose to do that by investing in Israel bonds. In 2014, I wrote my first Times of Israel blog, “My Bond with Israel” about visiting Israel as a volunteer. I’ve been back numerous times since then, including on my honeymoon, but nine years later from that Israel Bonds delegation visit, I had the honor to return and to present an award to the President of Israel Isaac Herzog at the residence of the president of Israel on behalf of all young investors of Israel.
Please do not count out young Jewish people in the Diaspora. We’re here.
Israel Bonds New leadership helps to educate Zionists in the U.S. and across the world about their own opportunity to invest in Israel. And while many young Jewish or pro-Israel groups struggled to engage during the pandemic, we grew. We expanded. My co-chair, Teri Herbstman, and I – with dynamic volunteer leaders from across the U.S. and in other communities across the world, plus unwavering staff support, got more young people to volunteer. We got more people to host events. Our New Leadership family grew. That was special and that was a message that we wanted to share with Israeli leaders on the ground.
With profound pride, we were able to tell President Herzog; then-Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman; and then-Defense Minister Benny Gantz – in-person, face-to-face, that once again, in 2022, over a billion dollars (U.S.) was raised to support Israel’s economy.
2023 is also off to an incredible start for the organization and our investors.
Israel Bonds, as an organization, is apolitical. The organization doesn’t weigh in on policy. The organization has a singular-mission and it has been the same mission since David Ben-Gurion founded Israel Bonds in 1951: to foster investments in support of the State of Israel and its people.
Our volunteers have diverse backgrounds and our investors have diverse opinions, but those opinions are checked at the door, when we write a check made out to the State of Israel (or make a purchase online) to buy an Israel bond. We ALL lean into Israel not just in word, but by opening up our wallets. We are pro-Israel Zionists (not pro-Israel Zionists with an asterisk).
In my time as a volunteer, I’ve had the incredible pleasure and honor of meeting the last six finance ministers of Israel and telling every one of them that I invest in Israel Bonds as a proud Jew. I invest in Israel Bonds as a proud Zionist.
I support JNF because I want to support the land, water, air, and people of Israel. I support FIDF because I want to support the people who are protecting all of Israel and all Israelis. And I support Israel Bonds because I support a strong economic Jewish State. There is no political test in my charitable giving to JNF or FIDF. And there is no political test in my investing in Israel. I support Israel. Full stop.
I will never support an economic boycott of Israel or side with those who do. And I will never support divestment from Israel. I think investment makes more sense to show my love for my brothers and sisters in Israel.
When I purchase an Israel bond – either for myself or as a donation to a charity or school that is meaningful to me – I know that the investment goes into the general fund of Israel and that it is paid out with interest along the way or at maturity, once the bond matures. I know that Israel bonds has brought $48 billion worldwide to Israel’s economy and when I visit Israel, I like to look at Israeli bridges, roads, high-speed rails, ports, schools, and hospitals being built and think about how Israel Bonds has helped grow every aspect of Israel’s economy. When I meet Israeli teachers, nurses, and doctors — I don’t think politics – I think people. It’s how I like to lean in to do my small part to support Israel’s development.
My three-year term as co-chair for Israel Bonds New Leadership may have concluded this past month, but my volunteerism and my investment will never stop. As I took the stage at Israel Bond’s Celebration of Israel’s 75th Anniversary, in Washington, D.C., to pass on these responsibilities to two new volunteer leaders, I reached into my pocket and took out a silver coin that the Mint of Israel made in 1975 to celebrate then-Israel Bonds 25th anniversary.
I thanked my incredible New Leadership co-chair, partner, friend, and “Bonds Bestie” Teri – who I first met in that 2014 Israel delegation while riding segways on the Tel Aviv promenade. I gave the silver coin to Teri as an allegory not for the first 25 years of diaspora Jews supporting Israel but that she and I, plus all Israel Bond New Leadership investors will be working together for the next 25 years to advance the development of the Jewish State as the modern State of Israel reaches 100 years.
My investment in Israel is far more than the Return on Investment (ROI) that I get on my bond investments. It’s the friends and altruism I feel doing something tangible to support Israel. Those engaging on the streets of Israel today and those pushing policy prescriptions that they believe in are doing what they think is in Israel’s best interests. They’re all leaning in.
Join us. Please continue supporting the land and the people of Israel. Lean in with love. Don’t lean out with indifference. Don’t disconnect. Don’t turn your back on Israel.