Diaspora Zionism

I am a Zionist. I say this proudly, as identifying as a supporter of the Jewish right to a free and independent state in the land of Israel is of the utmost importance to me. My connection with Israel is one that has been fostered from a young age, and it is key to my existence, providing me with an outlet for my passion, a place to call home, and a connection to a people and a land that I can’t imagine existing without.

Why, then, am I in New York?

Israel is the place where I draw my inspiration from, and I mark time by counting down to visits. It is constantly on my mind, impacting my life on a daily basis. But still I haven’t moved, haven’t followed my dream of living in Israel. My Zionism plays out in the Diaspora, inspiring me to educate others and spread the truth about Israel. I did this as a campus activist, and continue to do so in both my professional and personal life. I have made the decision, for the time being, to remain as I am, as I believe that I can greater impact Israel by influencing opinion here than by being there.

Reconciling my primary identity as a Zionist and my life in the Diaspora is something that has taken a great deal of effort. It is difficult to understand how I can have such a singular passion for Israel, but not live there. To be a Zionist in the Diaspora is to feel a connection to Israel, to believe in its importance and to support the right of the Jewish people to be in Israel while not taking advantage of this right personally. It leads to a great deal of internal conflict as I read news of Israel, hear stories of friends making aliyah, and feel a sense of belonging when I am there that exists nowhere else.

Love of Israel was instilled in me at a young age, and has only grown as I have spent more time getting to know the land and people of Israel. As I continue to share my passion with others, I seek to make the impact that will make my decision to remain in the Diaspora worth it, by helping Israel through educating and inspiring others, as I have been lucky enough to be. Zionism began in the Diaspora, with the Jewish people praying for the return to their ancient homeland, and working to secure the right to self-determination in that land. Today, it continues to be a thriving movement around the world, with Jews taking advantage of the opportunity to live in Israel, and still others making the decision to remain as they are, with Israel waiting for them when they too are ready to make the move.

About the Author
Samantha Vinokor is the Director of Marketing and Recruitment for Budokan Israel, a Masa program specializing in Martial Arts and Fitness. She is also pursuing a Masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Samantha is a recent olah chadasha. More about her freelance work, experiential education initiatives, and blogging can be found at samanthavinokor.weebly.com.