Haifa, in the early 2000s: I’m an energetic little girl. I always have ribbons in my hair because my Soviet grandmother won’t let me leave the house without them. I have a busy schedule; every day, after kindergarten, I either go to dance and singing practice or school. Why is a kindergarten kid going to school, you ask? Because this is where I’m being taught to read and write in Russian. It’s nothing out of the ordinary; all my Russian-speaking friends go to school. After all, where else would we learn to write and read Russian? I am a child of the USSR, so it is mandatory for me to speak, write, and read excellent Russian.
I was born less than 10 years after my family came to Israel. My father was running away from the authorities back in Ukraine because he dared to study Judaism. They almost caught him, but he managed to escape to Israel. My grandparents are highly qualified engineers, but this didn’t protect them from being fired for being Jewish. Both my parents rediscovered their Judaism by coming to Israel, and they raised me religiously. My parents have a lot of religious, Russian-speaking friends. I now know that a lot of them were refuseniks and rebels. But to me, they are just my parents’ friends.
I’m a product of immigrants, but so is everyone I know. This is my Israel. It’s bilingual and multicultural. We eat Olivier at my house, and my friends eat Jachnun at theirs. We don’t give up our culture to fit in; we brought it here and added new things to it.
My Israel is also courageous. Menachem Begin once said in a keynote address: “…[On] the other hand: courage. When the Jew woke up and rediscovered his inner courage, what was given to him? A flag, a homeland, an army, sovereignty, human dignity.”
I come from a family that prioritizes courage. I come from a country that prioritizes courage over fear, every day. That is the reason I’m here today, and that is what Zionism is to me. To not give in to fear, but to be courageous. Like those who have come before me.
This blog has been submitted as part of a wider campaign, which is being run by the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) entitled “Theodor & I – Zionism and Young European Jews”. Being launched on Yom Haatzmaut, the campaign seeks to start a discussion on Zionism, towards challenging the existing conversation surrounding the concept and ultimately highlighting the plurality of Jewish European identity and Zionism.
The opinions represented in these blogs do not necessarily reflect the position and views of EUJS.