Last month I returned from a personal trip to Israel. Although I’ve visited more than 25 times for business, this was the first trip for my children. Not only did they connect with history through walking the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City, seeing the view from Masada, visiting the Negev kibbutz where David Ben-Gurion retired, and hiking ruins and the Jordan water source at Tel Dan, but we experienced modern adventure through sailing on the Mediterranean from Acco, rappelling from the cliffs of Mitzpe Ramon, and scuba diving among the coral and colorful fish in the Red Sea. Whatever experience you have had with Israel, I assure you there is even more than you imagine. Seeing the country through their eyes re-emphasized how important Israel is to me and helped me crystalize some thoughts that I would like to share. For this Rosh Hashanah, I’d like to encourage parents to truly bring a sense of identity, knowledge and pride of Israel to the next generation.
As generations shift, it is a great challenge to maintain our next generation’s affinity to Israel. Many of the values that connected our parents and my generation are a lot less relevant for today’s technology-savvy and information-loaded teenagers and young adults. While survival issues, immigration and pioneering spirit are still a major factor in day-to-day life, Israel and Israelis have succeeded in building a country and society that is the envy of many. Israel of today is strong, viable and charts its own course. Israel is no longer that defenseless young child that needs to be cuddled. It has energy independence, water independence, highly productive agriculture, and world-leading technology innovation. While problems exist there, like for any other nations, it is mostly in Israeli hands to resolve.
Having said that, there is still a need for us to connect and support Israel and for Israel to connect and support its friends around the world, and in our case, the Southeastern U.S. The relationship now is more symmetrical than ever before. Our role is to pass on a contemporary narrative for our children to help them justify their investment in this relationship.
Personal connections and experiences with contemporary Israel go a long way to etching a positive image in our children. Connecting on mutual areas of interest such as technology, innovation, and working for a greater good, is one of the most prolific ways to find common ground. And this is critically important to combat the disproportional negative and misinformed voices still prevalent in the news and certain societies about Israel.
Every trip I’ve taken to Israel, both personal and for business, I’ve always been inspired by the country. In fact, I’ve been so moved by all that I’ve seen that I’ve dedicated much of my volunteer time back home to Conexx, the premier America Israel business connector, connecting people, businesses and influencers with opportunities and technological developments in Israel. I currently serve as the chairman of the board of this great organization.
At Conexx we have carved a special place for our young professionals to be the flag bearers of this renewed commitment to connecting with the country.
Israel and its people offer us a wealth of culture to be proud of, whether its business innovation and technology, archeology and history, or architecture and adventure. It’s up to us to pass along that sense of pride and connection to the next generation, keeping the dream and reality of Israel and its people alive and well.