The Jewish people’s best weapon against the rising anti-Semitism and anti-Israel propaganda we are seeing today is strengthening our ties with one another and the Holy Land. Like most things, these bonds need work to remain fortified. My bond with Judaism and Israel, like many people, was forged when I was a child.
For all these reasons, I am so excited for the Jewish Unity concert to be held Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This historic venue will host the Ma’ale Youth Symphony, a top orchestra at the George W. Schaeffer Music Conservatory, which draws students from schools across Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem, as well as choirs from The Ramaz School, a Jewish school in Manhattan.
I am heartened to know these youths will be brought together across the continents to revel in their joint Jewish heritage. Despite living so far apart, these talented children will be able to celebrate what unites them: their faith, their love for music and their devotion to Israel.
These children can serve as a strong example to the rest of us. We do not need to let our respective nationalities separate us, because we have ties stronger than home.
This amazing concert has been organized by the Bnai Zion Foundation, a nonprofit I admire greatly. Based in the United States, Bnai Zion has been working to support the people of Israel for the past 110 years — working for Israel before it was even recognized as a country — in areas of need, such as social inclusion, health and culture.
Even if you have not heard of Bnai Zion, you have certainly heard of the organization’s initiatives and accomplishments, such as helping to found and launch Magen David Adom and the America-Israel Friendship League. Other prestigious Bnai Zion projects include Kfar Bnai Zion, a communal moshav founded in 1947 where Holocaust survivors were able to rebuild their lives and homes; safe rooms in Ahava Village, a 2016 initiative where Bnai Zion funded the building of rooms in the Ahava Village for troubled youth to protect these children from rocket fire; and Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, the former Rothschild Hospital which was renamed in 1988 after Bnai Zion committed to build a new 11-story wing and to modernize hospital facilities to better serve the people of northern Israel.
“Bnai Zion is all about helping the people of Israel. By building — really building — hospitals, schools, universities, villages for at-risk youth and special-needs children, residences for veterans and Holocaust survivors, and so much more, we are strengthening Israel’s infrastructure and enabling all Israelis to live more meaningful and productive lives,” Bnai Zion Executive Board member Jan Kiderman, told me.
I look at the work of Mr. Kiderman and his colleagues and am awed by the impact they make both in Israel and in America. In Israel, their contributions are quantifiable; we can point to the schools, villages, hospitals and more that Bnai Israel has created. It is more difficult to pinpoint the foundation’s effect in the United States, though I am fortunate to see its evidence on a regular basis.
In the United States, Bnai Zion leads American Jews to become more engaged with the Jewish community and with Israel. Bnai Zion empowers American Jews to speak up and speak out, to be strong advocates for Israel, to combat hatred wherever it is found, and to contribute their time, talents and funds to making Israel stronger.
It is my sincere hope that the students from The Ramaz School who will perform at Carnegie Hall with the Ma’ale Youth Symphony will form a strong bond with their Israeli peers and become more involved in the community.
A core tenet of Judaism is tikkun olam, repairing the world. That work must be taught young and I believe the Jewish Unity Concert on Dec. 12 will strengthen the resolve of our faith’s youth to continue working for the betterment of our people and the world. I look forward to seeing this bright model of hope.