Thursday, April 12, 2007

Jews Love: Israel, for real this time

Take my family, for instance. I went to Israel on a birthright trip the winter of my freshman year of college. At that time my parents joked that I should get a medal for "travelling in a war zone."Since then they've each been to Israel 3 times. Tomorrow today my Mom boards a plane for #4. Why? She decided that it was time to "get her act together" and learn Hebrew, so she's been going to Ulpan* with her sister.

My parents aren't the only ones who have fallen in love with Israel as adults. Jameel made aliyah as an adult (I think), many of the Jewlicious crew live in Israel, have lived there, or just straight up love it (especially the eminently crush-worthy Michael). Even with Mobius making yeridah* next month there is still a lot of love for the holyland in the j-blogosphere. For instance, the rather cute We Love Israel blog, dedicated to the uncomplicated, total slavish love for Israel. For the record, I do think that it is a really cute idea, and I wish that I could love Israel in that way: totally, unreservedly, and without conflict. Sadly my relationship with Israel is a little more fraught. Dvd Avins of Barking Iguana reposts a column from Daily Kos about how love of Israel is different than supporting the Iraq war, a contention with which I wholeheartedly agree.

Jews the world over love Israel. Ethiopian Jews love Israel (although it is questionable how many of the Beta Ethiopians still in Ethiopia are Jewish), Russian Jews (and many other random Russians) love Israel, and now INDIAN Jews! For the record, there have been Jews in India forever, there was a bustling Jewish community in Mumbai at one point, but that isn't what I'm talking about. These are "missing tribe" Indian Jews. People who didn't really know that they were Jewish until recently. And their mouthpiece, Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi loves Israel. That fascinated me. Dr. Aafreedi has his own eponomyous blog: Navras, which again, is fascinating.

If you love Israel, and you live in New York, you should maybe consider the JNF's Amazing Race, which takes place on April 22nd. It is a scavenger hunt/relay for teams of 5, with a grand prize of $500 gift certificate towards a trip to Israel for every participating team member. I'll be there. With bells on. Oh yeah, bells.

*Ulpanis an Israeli institution created to help teach immigrants Hebrew on a mass scale. The levels and teaching methods are standardized and have been taken on by many schools which teach Hebrew outside of Israel.

*Yeridah is Hebrew for "going down" and is the antonym of "aliyah" Hebrew for "going up" and colloquialism for immigrating to Israel.


Jack's Shack said...

One day I'll join the club and make aliyah.

Anonymous said...

Why do they require college student or birthright alum? There are plenty of post-college students that went on trips before birthright and were therefore ineligible for birthright.

Birthright is one of the most hyped and overvalued programs out there. Sure you came out Jewishly active, but you would have regardless of Birthright. Birthright is all about serving the lowest common denominator with a free trip to Israel hoping that it might have an impact on a small number of students. I can think of a lot better uses of the money that would have a much better lasting impact on students.

I know parents of high school students that were going to send their kids on a summer program to Israel but decided not to because they could go on Birthright for free. Congratulations Birthright, you've just convinced parents to trade a 6 week experience for a 10 day experience, that's real progress.

Jack's Shack said...

I know parents of high school students that were going to send their kids on a summer program to Israel but decided not to because they could go on Birthright for free. Congratulations Birthright, you've just convinced parents to trade a 6 week experience for a 10 day experience, that's real progress.

Parents that give up a six week experience for a 10 day program are not necessarily sold on the idea of the longer program.

I am not convinced that this is an argument against Birthright.

Annie said...

Jack- I am torn about that, but that is another post for a different day.

Anon- Why does who require college students or birthright alums? I agree with Jack when he says that parents who don't send their kids for 10 weeks don't do it b/c they want to save money, they do it b/c they aren't sure that they want their kids in Israel for 10 weeks. I never went on a peer tour, not because I didn't want to, but because my parents were concerned about my safety. And 6 weeks is a long time, and expensive (for those of us keeping track of how much it costs to live a Jewish life, add in trips to Israel).

I don't think that one can overhype birthright. Whatever else it may/may not achieve, it sends kids to Israel (and gives them a positive experience) that they might not otherwise have. That is the goal. To send kids to Israel. Having gone, I think that there are a lot of side benefits (for instance, a guy on my trip is coming to shabbat lunch at my house this week) including meeting other Jews, and developing positive feelings towards Israel. Not observance. I was relig before I went to Israel (for instance, I wore skirts full-time), and I was even more relig afterwards.

Point being: Birthright is a great opportunity given by an enormously generous group of donors. I cannot overstate how important their work is, and I think that they deserve all the credit that they recieve. The program isn't perfect, but that doesn't mean that it isn't an objective good.

Marisa said...

Also, I'd say it's dangerous to assume that all parents can afford to send their kids to Israel for 6 weeks.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I don't know if I qualify as an adult yet...but I did make aliya (thankfully) the second I finished college. Actually, I would have moved sooner and gone to college in Israel had I not gotten into a tremendous argument with my parents.

Anonymous said...

The JNF amazing race is open to current college students or birthright alum.

And my comment about the high school students parents choosing birthright over a summer program. The reason they were told to wait was "because they can go on birthright for free." No mention of length of time or security. Now I know cost is an issue for some people, but these were upper middle class people who could probably afford the trip. Also, if the cost of summer programs is too high then maybe the Jewish community should be subsidizing longer programs with substance instead of the 10 day express party trip.

Michael said...

travelling in a war zone

My mother-in-law tried to use that argument against our aliyah, until I showed her the statistics on per-capita violent death for Israel and SE Michigan from 2000 to 2003. Michigan was far more dangerous.

Now she's planning her second trip here. Although I do think the grandbabies have something to do with that...

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Ben Ami said...

hey, thanks for the mention, just found this today.

ya know, we also have our moments, especially in the israel of today.

but bottom line for us is home is just that, home.

teheyu briim!