Zionism. Hope. Leadership. Since my first memory of Israel as a 6-year-old in Jewish day school, my first visit to Israel on the eve of the First Gulf War and through all of my trips over the years with family and friends, those are the words that I keep returning to.

I used them as a guide when my wife and I decided to make aliyah. They were with me when I chose my career path in the Jewish community. And they direct me as I encourage my children to appreciate, love and value the state of Israel.

Too often today Zionism has a negative connotation. I fundamentally believe that we need to encourage discussions about what Zionism means to you and create a better understanding of how diverse a concept it is. Zionism positively influences religion, culture, politics and so many others.

One of Dov Wilker’s favorite photos of Israel

Israel provides hope to our community. She creates and innovates unique ideas, showing the global community what is possible, regardless of your resources. There are countless examples of how Israeli innovation has provided hope to others. But less told is the story of the Israelis who have left their homes to support and create hope in others.

And none of this would be possible without leadership showing the way for what is possible, encouraging others and teaching us how to grow and improve. It is the individuals who make Israel a haven for leadership, a country where challenging the status quo is not only accepted, but encouraged. Zionism. Hope. Leadership.

See all the reflections on Israel’s meaning on this special anniversary.