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Herding the Katzes: Making ‘Yachad Nenatzeach’ possible across the world

The response to our latest articles on the need to build a grassroots countermovement to “Free Palestine” around the idea of “Brand Judaism” which also serves to reframe Israel was very strong and supportive here in the US and around Europe. Of course, the question became “how” would you go about doing this.  

 In other word the process, collaboration short and long term among organizations old and new in the diaspora and then within Israel.  

 And the elephant in that room is the “how can you herd the katzes” which is the phrase my partner Jon Bond, http://www.theheartmonitors.com/ coined in the early weeks of the war as we entered in the landmine Jewish Nonprofit world and the world of Jewish business to address the most critical issue on which we have focused –our loss of Gen Z and Gen Alpha.   Today, almost nine months in, the katzes in the face of an even greater threat to our existence as a people, religion and nation is so apparent.  

 Very naïve perhaps, we named our initiative   B’Kol Echad which means” In One Voice” in Hebrew.  We saw that through the application of basic marketing principles, strategic frameworks and partnerships to collectively address problem audiences –in our minds the Gen Z to counter vs “Free Palestine” movement which we term the marketing campaign of the 21st century.  Their success and brilliance in casting us as Goliath instead of being David in the eyes of the world under our noses for the last twenty years.  

 We were inspired by this idea, especially as it is found in the story of Exodus in the Old Testament. According to some biblical commentary, much like today’s fragmented world of Jewish nonprofits and among us as individuals, the Jews were not united prior to the Exodus. There was dissent in what to do. Panic. The story goes that Moses was able to pull everyone together.  Rashi stated that when the Jews finally received the Torah on Mt Sinai, they did so ‘keish echad b’lev echad.” In other words, “as one person with one heart.”  

 Clearly, we are diverse and are a “peoplehood” but also a collective of individuals all smart, driven, passionate survivalists who need to be right.  Who we are, especially with our backs up against the wall, it appears, we are not inclined to oneness. Reactiveness seems to prevail while initiatives to collaborate abound as do newer coalitions ironically, yet again not always working with each other or simply not knowing about each other.  

 All this while the situation only worsens both in the physical and virtual worlds. Nonetheless, it seems we have never been more fractious or at odds with each other as much as we know that we cannot be to win.   And in the words of one of the leaders of the New York Jewish Community we met with yesterday, herding the katzes even in the face of this existential threat unlike any other is appearing to be impossible.   

 So, what could be step one to Herding the Katzes?  

 LISTEN TO MINDS AND THE HEARTS –B’Kol Echad – “Out of many voices comes one as one person with ONE HEART”  

 And, not to forget “Listen” or “Hear” is the first word of the Shema. 

 Of course, our tradition loves disagreement, 12 fractious tribes who want to one up each other. Nonetheless, debate in that context is a kind of Jewish sacrament. Let’s do the Jewish thing and discuss. But also, let’s do the Jewish thing and listen. It matters less about who is sharper or smarter, and more about who can see the bigger picture and acknowledge multiple sides of an issue as well as how people feel—jews and non jews alike.   

 LISTEN TO AND SHARE OUT THE IDEAS AND ACTIONS OF OUR GREAT MINDS  

 To collaborate, we must share what we are doing not seek to win by coming up with the big solutions in silos.  

And to come up with the counter movement we need to create for the next generation will take time, let’s optimize the present to build a greater future.  

 FACT IS GREAT MINDS ARE DOING GREAT THINGS.  

 There are wonderful, brilliant entrepreneurial initiatives and grassroots programs popping up the world over, and by the established Jewish and Israeli nonprofits. First, we need to collect what is happening to leverage demonstrated practices by audience. What is a global idea, what is local, what betas have been proven out in market or online that we can replicate and where are they appropriate.  What technological platforms are being built to collaborate, track, synthesize data, predict optimize and incite action —I have met with two for example –one in the UK, One in the US –all coalitions and meeting one more this week. We are sure there are others. There is so much data and polling –what are the insights—they whys behind what and then what are the solutions, what are the agreed overall issues and insights by country, audience specific to take action.  

 Let’s stop “the not invented here” ideology.  Let’s openly share our initiatives and briefs to various partners as there are many acting on Gen Z or Brand Israel or Stopping Antisemitism on all levels across audiences and tactics. Let’s identify and agree the lexicon to track antisemitism and the language to combat it. I just sat in a meeting with top academics here brilliantly doing this for the last 15 years through top universities.  Let’s agree that the big idea to counter free Palestine will not come from one agency or one nonprofit but the insights of many and one powerful brief to powerful creatives in centers of creative excellence across the globe. Let’s agree that there is great creative happening everywhere –we need to optimize it and share it.  

 It’s not rocket science that we need to harness what is working in the short term as we band together to solve our long-term generational plan. Let’s create the command central globally.  Some are trying to do this here are  perhaps more domestically oriented. I just met a similar group with aspirations in the UK/Europe. While it may take for these groups to coalesce, let’s agree to mechanisms to test messaging, program efficacy. Let’s share ideas freely.  Let’s discuss them. Let’s debate them. Let’s identify what initiatives are funded and those that need to be. Where they fit into the ecosystem. Let’s start an official  Jewish VC of sorts because investors through foundations  are doing these on their own.  Let’s invest in smaller “solutions” or activations in the market that are working and replicate them to seed our movement while we build it. Let’s give money to the newer, entrepreneurial grassroots organizations popping up the world over that are creating track records, showing beta.   

 So, that is the first step to Brand Judaism to rebrand Israel.  Listen, share out to Collaborate.  

BUT, TO DO GREAT THINGS TOGETHER WE MUST Listen to each other’s Hearts not simply each other’s Minds.  

 All our hearts are in the right place.  

 But fact is we are mired in our own facts and our cling to our heartfelt conventions of messaging –and conventions of each other (within how we practice or not our Judaism, Israeli perceptions of their Diaspora cousins especially Americans and ours of our Israeli cousins.  Gen X and Baby Boomer grandparents and Parents in the US are not understanding how the younger generation feels so differently about Israel…) And our conventions of the foes we face on the other Side.  

 Our feelings are all different, and we must put ourselves in each other’s shoes.  

 For example, American Jews report feeling a host of emotions – including sadness, anger, exhaustion and fear (Pew research April 2024) and our reactions and behaviors to these feelings are different. “ Recently, Shiraz Shukrun, 25, an Instagram promoter of shampoo, Vaseline and beer to more than half a million followers on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube asserted to NPR in March  that “ Only Israelis know how other Israelis feel. No one will never know how we feel.” 

 Israel’s fractious society is largely united by the war while American Jews have never been more divided on the question of Israel.  Generationally, politically. 

Jews across the world feel that their governments have turned their backs on both Jews and Israel and Israel feels that it is more about Israel perhaps than Judaism.  Studies appear to show that Israelis accept antisemitism more so in all its forms while many Diaspora Jews seem blindsided to some extent. The rape of a twelve-year-old in France brought to the forefront that the Shoah is not so far in the past and is now a pivotal election issue.  

We have posited that from a branding perspective, we cannot focus on Israel right now given the optics. This said, the vast majority (83%) of Israelis think it’s very or somewhat important for the country to have this kind of global respect. That includes 59% who say it is very important. These facts have perhaps driven the country branding approach which Jews in the Diaspora would argue is a moot point right now. It’s like repositioning a blackberry when the iPhone came to market.   

The fact, however, remains that we do like each other. Just the typical family power struggles. Around nine-in-ten U.S. Jews (89%) express a favorable view of the Israeli people, and 54% have a favorable view of the Israeli government. So, while Israelis support military action, we remain divided on solution (Pew research March)  

So where are we?  

 We don’t have extensive time for family therapy sessions, but we do have the smarts and the will to collect and then disseminate all the good and what is working by audience by country on the marketing front.  

 Global accounts fail when master control centers try to understand a given market without the local agency and local advertising or vice versa try to go it alone. Our collective needs must be adapted by market and audience against a larger theme.  We need to partner globally not simply domestically.  

 We do have time to listen to each other in terms to discuss ideas, test their efficacy and concepts for activations. We must respect each other enough to know that an American Jew cannot possibly understand Israeli visceral feelings and vice versa. Or intergenerationally. We need to work with Gen Zers. Gen Alphas.  And while on a global level we face the same existential threat with similar manifestations, there are many different ones as well.  

 At the end of the day, we are all Jews.  We must listen to each other to find one heart to have one mind to have a plan to win together. This is all while we wait for our Moses to show up.  

 Yachad Nenatzeach. Together, we will WIN!

About the Author
Robin Lemberg is a globally recognized leader in branding, strategy, marketing, and communications, renowned for her obsession with understanding people and translating that insight into big ideas that simplify complex challenges. Robin has led an expansive career spanning leadership roles at iconic organizations and for global brands such as PepsiCo, Credit Suisse, Interbrand, BBDO TBWA (formerly BDDP), Mercer (formerly Corporate Decisions, Inc) and Disney, and her own consultancy, The Branding Partnership, then XN Partnership. Her strategic thinking informed Effie and Lion awards among other industry accolades. Robin also helped to develop the Disruption methodology and write its launch book while at BBDP/TBWA, which has made a big impact on the branding and marketing industry. In recent years, Robin has combined her marketing expertise with a degree in nonprofit executive leadership to positively impact social issues through the application of marketing principles and strategic planning to international, domestic, and local NPOs. She is on the Board of Human Services in Greenwich, CT and serves as an advisor to other organizations. Robin is also passionate about passing the marketing torch on to Gen Z by inspiring new ways of thinking about strategy to catalyze change. Robin splits her time between Connecticut, New York City and Paris and is a proud parent to Gen Z kids.
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