ELUL- Eternal Love – United Love

Internalizing Love for the Land of Israel -one KLEE at a time

The State of Israel and I are approximately the same age. The land of Israel and I share a spiritual connection of millennia past. Deep within me, as I block out the raucous horn blowing, the hammering of new construction, the constantly changing bus routes, I can conjure up our forefathers and mothers. I look down at the newly paved sidewalk and imagine the ground underneath where our prophets and kings lived their destinies. I can travel the length and breadth of modern day Israel and see the original tribal land divisions. I am living in the present, yearning for the past and pondering the future of the land of Israel. How will I and like-minded Jews (I know I am not alone) pass down the essential sense of longing and belonging to the land of Israel, especially if we live in the Diaspora? We so easily these days, travel to Israel, tour the country with our children, eat falafel and pray at the Kotel. Then we go home, and tell the children we are planning a return trip- to which the reply is, “Again? We already did that!”

Gap years are spent, Birthright tours are experienced but is any lasting connection being developed?

Sadly, in the recent Jewish People Policy Institute’s Annual Assessment (Jerusalem Post, July 8th) as reported by Yedidiah Stern, there is cause for great concern regarding the attrition and loss of Jewish identity. “In the dimension of identity and identification- there is a growing distancing between young Jews and their Jewish identity as well as a weakening of their emotional attachment to Israel.”(Jerusalem Post) The lessons and the strengths of our ancestors in Egypt, who were redeemed from slavery because they didn’t change their names, their distinctive clothing and their language is now relegated to the smallest minority of Jews who are regarded as antiquated and even reviled. As the world around us promotes moral relativity, gender ambiguity and self-identification by pronouns-  we are experiencing a total breakdown of values that allow a society to exist. There is no more room for people who hold on to their basic ethics- these are being denied and destroyed by those who hypocritically call their own agenda the only truth.

How then can we hope to hold on to our own values when our youth and adults steep themselves voluntarily in the social media of the day that pushes anti-family and indeed anti-life propaganda? The bastions of the Jewish people- our families, our schools, and our communities are being fragmented by the secularization and dissolution of moral and ethical boundaries.

Those of us who continue to send our children to yeshivot and day schools can hope to fend off the most malicious offerings of a society that has literally gone off the “derech”- the path. The partnership of parents and schools who are willing to recognize the dangers and not hide their heads in the sand will go a long way to stave off the inroads to our Jewish identity – but for how long and to what degree? Will identification with Israel and its people be successfully transmitted or will it fall by the wayside as a relic, no longer characteristic of a Jew and his identity, subsumed in the mantra that only some lives matter.

In this battle of ideas and ideals, we must use every available strategy. ACHI- American Communities Helping Israel has long promoted its mission of keeping Israel in the hearts and minds of this and future generations. In 2004, at the height of the Second Intifada, Suzanne Weilgus, a Rockland County resident, along with friends organized Israeli market places and invited Israeli vendors to the tri-state area to sell their wares. A huge success- and recently resurrected in the form of an on-line presence- The ACHI Market hosts a large variety of Israeli businesses which ship internationally and deliver in Israel. As we THINK ISRAEL- BUY ISRAELI, we stand by our commitment to help the economy and morale of Israeli citizens.

In the early days Mrs. Weilgus inspired several women to join her fledgling organization who then proceeded to visit schools, and communities to promote the connection between Diaspora Jewry and our Israeli ‘family’. During the past eighteen years, Team ACHI continues to reach out across America, to Rabbis, to organizations, to schools, to synagogues and sisterhoods to spread the message of this connection. Team ACHI has grown to seven volunteers, and two associates who drive our social media presence. Our initiative for the coming months is introducing the Year of the KLEE, coinciding with the 75th Anniversary of the State of Israel.

The KLEE-(Hebrew for bowl, dish or vessel) simply stated is a dedicated receptacle that can be filled and refilled with Israeli products, which serves as a constant reminder of our connection to Israel. A KLEE can be a dish already in your home. A KLEE is easily purchased in a local Judaica  shop, or the artsy-craftsy among you can design your own KLEE. When you have such a tangible reminder in your home or workplace, you will necessarily be drawn to the message it imbues- you and Israel are one.

The Year of the KLEE should resonate with all educators, organization heads and parents. Consider a school-wide project, a PTA initiative, a synagogue or sisterhood program highlighting the concept of Ahavat Eretz Yisroel. Design life cycle events, holidays and celebrations- using KLEES as focal points- filled with products of Israel. By identifying with The KLEE you are identifying with positive pride in being Jews, committed spiritually and emotionally to the age-old longing for our homeland. By emphasizing this simple message you will be role models for your family and community- We urge you- internalize love for the Land of Israel -one KLEE at a time.

Now-take this short quiz:

What do I do to support Israel?

Does my love of Israel translate into action?

Do I buy Israeli products?

How can I pass on my love of Israel to the next generation?

Join ACHI and you’ll have the answer to all the questions and you will make the Year of the KLEE a success for Israel and for yourselves.

For further information you can reach us at

About the Author
Lynda Zentman is a retired educator with almost fifty years of experience in the field. She volunteers for ACHI- American Communities Helping Israel, a non-profit organization. She and her husband share their time between the USA where their extended family lives, and in their apartment in Jerusalem.
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