How do you spell Israel-H-O-P-E

“No Jew, knowing Jewish history, can be an optimist, but no Jew worthy of the name abandons hope. The most pessimistic of the prophets, from Amos to Jeremiah, were still voices of hope.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

We are facing another attack against the Jewish people-the taking of our children. But as Rabbi Sacks has said “…no Jew worthy of the name abandons hope.”

We read about BDS. Its purpose: demonize and delegitimize the nation-state of Israel. I saw a new acronym: PDS. Promote, Develop and Support. This is easy to do. Israel is a country full of hope-looking to the future.

When I landed in Israel this past May, I was met by Zeev. He was driving me to Jerusalem. I sat in front and we talked. Zeev is 6th generation Israeli and if I remember correctly, there are generations 7 and 8 on the scene. He gave me a mini-tour on our way in, proudly pointing out the many changes taking place in this small but mighty country. I bumped into Zeev as I was leaving Jerusalem heading back to the airport. The alpha and omega of my trip. I told Zeev I would be writing about this trip and would mention him. He laughingly suggested that I put in his email address for his limousine service. Here it is: Shalom Zeev.

Israel has been changing, quietly, from a country that constantly feared for her existence into one that is inspiring and aspiring, youthful in outlook; strong, vital and fun. A country filled with blessings, full of gratitude, with a diverse population reaping the rewards of hard work. There are cranes everywhere.  And infrastructure improvements. A new train is being built between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that will reduce commuting time to 30 minutes. Highways are expanding.

Foods from around the world: pastas that would make Italy proud, baguettes that would bring tears to the eyes of the French. Middle Eastern food, Indian, Ethiopian. A fusion of flavours. This is Israel.

Citizens of all colours from pale to dark brown.

And Israel is the young people. Standing guard. I was at the Kotel the day a group of IDF soldiers were taking their “vows.” They receive in one hand a Bible, and in the other a gun. Pray you never use the gun and if you use the gun, pray afterwards knowing the reason-defending Israel.

Watching them I remembered the stories I read as a child about King David and his soldiers, considered the best of their time.

In Canada there is a quietness about Israel-don’t rock the boat, don’t hurt feelings. A young man who takes students on tours through Taglit told me that Canadians are poorly educated regarding Israel. Some of our Jewish organizations continue to hide the light of Israel for fear of starting up, of pushback from those who hate us, of escalating a public relations backlash on the Jews.

Someone from one of these organizations explained that they like to work behind the scenes to fight anti-semitism. They don’t want to be seen lobbying for Israel. Lobbying for Israel? I thought their mission included protecting our young Jewish students on campus, demanding that they receive the same human rights as all the other students allowing them to go to school without fear. This isn’t only about Israel-this is about our Jewish youth in the diaspora, too.

As Rabbi ReuvenTradburks, formerly from Toronto, a friend and my guide my first day back in Jerusalem in 5 years, said to me in the Kotel,

“We are living in storied times of Jewish history.  The exiles are being gathered into the land, whether it is by Divine hand or Divine wink, there is a feeling of the redemption dawning.”

Whether one is religious or secular, there is a new hopefulness in the land of Israel.

Wake up Canada. Wake up Jewish community. Be part of that hopefulness, that new found strength. The time of being quiet is over.

About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "