This week, Bibi suspended the Western Wall agreement, cancelling the expansion of a non-Orthodox prayer area at Judaism’s holiest site. The Diaspora Jewish community is angry, with individuals and organizations publishing passionate statements of opposition.
Yet, the Israeli Jewish community remains completely confused. Why are our brothers and sisters across the world so upset? Why was the Western Wall agreement so meaningful for them?
Sure, Israeli Jews are different from Diaspora Jews, but that’s not why there’s a huge gap in understanding. Diaspora Jews need to step up and effectively start sharing their stories about what the Western Wall agreement could’ve meant for them. It’s time for them to help us Israelis understand why it’s such a big deal.
A Lesson from Sderot
When I attended college in Sderot, I faced a similar challenge. Before moving down south, I’d heard Israeli newscasters report that rockets fell in open areas and that no one was hurt. But I didn’t know what that meant.
I had no idea that each time a rocket fell, I’d have 15 seconds to run for cover. I had no idea that during my 20-minute walk to class, I’d lie flat in the streets next to kids crying. I had no idea that each rocket — deadly or not — traumatized the people of Sderot more and more.
Because people got used to it. Even I got used to it. And I realized that that was crazy. I wasn’t living a normal life. My friends in Tel Aviv, only an hour-and-a-half away, were living in a completely different world. While I was running for my life, they were running late for a date. Or to pick up a carton of milk. Or to get into the club at the discounted price.
They had to know what it was like to live in Sderot. And the rest of the world had to know, too.
The Israeli government was good at providing facts and figures — how many rockets had fallen, where they’d fallen, and the number of casualties — if any. But statistics wouldn’t make people care or help us put an end to our insane lifestyle.
I knew that if we could bring the stories home, if we could make people all over the world relate — we could make them care. So, that’s exactly what we did did.
A father in Sderot shared his experience of sleeping in the bomb shelter with his family so that his child would no longer urinate in his bed each time the siren went off. A mother said that she used small drops of shampoo while bathing her baby so that it wouldn’t drip into his eyes when they ran for shelter.
Suddenly, organizations began donating bomb shelters all over the city — bus station bomb shelters and playground bomb shelters. Tel Aviv residents opened a weekly bus service that brought them to Sderot so that they could shop and support the local economy. And a few months before Barack Obama became the President of the United States, he visited Sderot and promised that he would share the story of Sderot with the American people.
How to Effectively Tell Your Story
By finding common ground and shared values with our audiences, and sharing real life, personal stories with them, we have the ability not only to to spread our stories around the world. But we can also change people’s perspectives and make a real difference.
Jews, Mischpache it’s time to share your story in a way that resonates with your Israeli family. Ready to get started? Here are my tips for effective storytelling.
- Consider what you want to accomplish
Even before you share your story, identify your goals. How do you want your audience to feel? What thoughts do you want them to leave with?
- Include lots of emotions
To really connect to your audience, you’ll have to put some emotion into your story. A straightforward argument isn’t going to tug at someone’s heartstrings. Instead, describe your feelings and help your audience empathize with you.
- Tell a story based on your common values
What do you and your audience share in common? Find a way to relate to your audience, and weave your shared values into your story. Once your audience relates to you, they’lll be able to put themselves in your shoes and be more receptive to your story.
- Describe your experiences fully
Bring your experiences to life. Show us your emotions, as well as the scenery and sounds that are vital to your story. The more vivid your story is, the more your audience will feel as though they are there. And, then, they’ll not only listen to your story; they’ll become part of your story.
- Make it personal
If you want your Israeli friends to understand your perspective, be sure to talk to them like friends. We’re not interested in marketing pieces and public relations statements. We want to understand how you, as an individual, feel.
So, yalla, lets start sharing OUR stories! Not your denomination’s stories. Not your rabbi’s Dvar Torah. But your stories that help me understand why cancelling the Western Wall agreement is so upsetting to you. Please share in the comments. I’m looking forward to understanding where you’re coming from.