As Israel celebrates its 71st birthday, some of Schechter’s faculty share what “Israeliness” means to them. May Israel go from strength to strength!
For me, being Israeli means to live in a situation where one’s actions, in every moment of life, impact the future of the Jewish people and the Jewish people’s contribution to the future of humanity – for good and for bad. To the extent that we consider our “Israeliness” in a manner that expands our humanity and our culture; to the extent that we direct our lives to the ideals of justice and truth, to that extent we will broaden our Jewishness and our humanity. But the opposite is also true: To the extent that we understand our Israeliness in narrow and fanatical terms, to that extent we will destroy our Judaism and our humanity.
Israeliness is best expressed in its contrasts:
On the good side- solidarity, brotherhood, a willingness to help and so much love of country. And on the less good side- lack of patience (particularly on the roads) roughness, and a way of speaking that is not the most dignified. But at the end of the day, we have no other country! And it is always possible to improve, even at age 71.
Being Israeli is friendship and willingness to open you home and heart to people who you don’t even know. Some examples: attending funerals and weddings of people who don’t have relatives in Israel to offer comfort or to celebrate; visiting a grave of a fallen soldier on Memorial Day who doesn’t have relatives; the dancing in the streets of Israel, all the different dances even after 70 years of Statehood; nights of singing; Shabbat and holidays all over the country, even in Tel Aviv there is a quietness that suddenly descends.