David Brent

Raising Zionists

I know a thing or two about raising children. That is it, just a thing or two. One of those things is that if you want your children to share your values, it helps if you can do two things: 1) Explain the value; and 2) Practice what you preach. This is not a guarantee, but it does help.

I have three children from my first marriage. My children are aged 21, 19 and 15. The value that I want my children to share is that I want them to be Zionists.

If I was a religious fanatic, I could tell my children that they have to be Zionists because Hashem said so and if you don’t listen, you will burn in hell. Actually, hell is the threat used by religious fanatical Christians and Muslims. Religious fanatic Jews don’t believe in Hell. Religious fanatic Jews believe that there is some kind of Heaven Stadium and that the more you obey your rabbi, the better seat you get at the Big Concert in the Sky. I understand that the Baal Shem Tov has a private club section reserved for his Hasidim and that the Vilna Gaon has back stage passes for his followers. The biggest threat a religious fanatic Jew can give their child is that he will end up in the bleachers with the gentiles.

Muslim sign outside Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

Even though I am no religious fanatic, I believe I have done a good job at raising my children to appreciate being Jewish and to love the State of Israel. We have had many deep philosophical discussions about what it means to be one of the “Chosen People.” I have brought my children to Israel over 10 times. They have been to summer camp in Israel, they have travelled the country from the Negev to the Golan with me as their guide, and they have participated in organized tours. They have seen more of Israel than most Israelis. They love Israel and are committed to helping it remain a Jewish State. (In the fully pluralistic definition of that term)

On Vacation in Metulla

My eldest daughter proudly flies the Israeli flag in her room in College. My second daughter is currently studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. My son (the 15 year old) is spending his fall 10th grade semester at the Alexander Muss High School at the Eshel Hanasi campus in Israel.

I wish that more Israelis could see Israel through the eyes of my children. I meet too many Israelis who don’t appreciate what they have accomplished. They see the flaws in their society but fail to see the beauty. And there is so much beauty to see in the country and in its citizens. Israelis are passionate about making the world a better place. Israelis are incredibly warm to outsiders. Israelis are generous and peace loving. Not all Israelis. Not all the time. But more than many Israelis give themselves credit for.

It is easy to see from the outside. But I am not just some outsider. I have seen and lived in both Israel and the USA. I know neither place is perfect. But don’t take my word for it. My son is blogging about his experience in Israel. Read my son’s blogs and see Israel through his eyes. Maybe it will help you appreciate what you have accomplished.

About the Author
David Brent is a NASA engineer with a master's and bachelor's from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology turned candy entrepreneur. He made aliya in the spring of 2013. David commutes between Israel, where his heart is, and Florida, where his business is.