Sunday, August 30, 2015

Zionism on the Road

We just returned from an absolutely amazing three week trip to the States to see family. It was glorious for many reasons. It was wonderful to see so much family and to get to enjoy time together. It was a joy to have so much uninterrupted time with my children, to watch them bond and enjoy time together. And it was a real gift to have the opportunity to show the kids places that they’ve never been and experiences that they’ve never had.


Admiring the enormity of the Redwoods
One of the things that stood out for me the most over the course of the trip was the difference in my Zionism from that of my children. Everywhere we went people asked us where we were from. Given the global landscape today, I found myself – each and every time – holding my breath as my kids said, with glee, “ISRAEL!” I waited for the reaction of these strangers, for the nasty words or the cold shoulder that might accompany such a declaration on the very liberal West Coast.

Each time I was annoyed with myself. Why should I hold my breath and worry about what others think about my home? Why should I be anxious or fearful when answering a simple question? What insanity is this?

Fortunately, we experienced no anti-semitism, no anti-Israel sentiments and no issues along the way. If anything, we encountered people who were particularly interested in us. 

While standing in line at the Hearst Castle, an egg farmer from Ohio started a conversation with us (we asked a bit about his farm only to find out he had 2 million chickens!) While he knew virtually nothing about Israel, he was fascinated by the farming techniques and kept asking Josh questions about the advanced technology that the agricultural world here has created. He asked which agricultural products were imported and which were home grown. We were quite surprised by his interest and his questions. He also asked us about our thoughts on the Iran deal. At the end of the conversation he said, "We want you to know that we and the people of America are with you, don’t worry about what those people in Washington have to say." He actually referred to the people in Washington in more colorful language, but we’ll leave it at that.

What I found fascinating, however, wasn’t the reaction that people had to us when we told them where we were from, but the way that my kids interact with the world and carry their Zionism on their sleeves.

They had no qualms about telling people that they are from Israel. As proud Israelis with little interaction with the outside world they declare their love for their country at every turn. 

They expected no backlash, accepted no compromise and expected no response but a love for their country or, at the very least, some innocent questions.

After the first day or two of the trip, I had to laugh when I saw what one of the kids had drawn in the dust on the back of the car.

On the side of the car
I actually thought of erasing it, and then realized that I was letting my fear of the world’s reaction get to me.

My kids were unstoppable. When we went to the beach, Yehuda spent his time drawing Israeli flags in the sand. And every time that they had the chance, they took pictures with the Israeli flag waving in front of them (while I secretly stood guard waiting for any reaction).

While boating in Portland, Oregon
In the Redwoods in California
At Hurricane Harbor in Los Angeles

I love their zeal, their love for their country, their ability to believe in the place of their birth (or their upbringing) with no bones about it and no excuses.

Their mother could learn a few lessons from their unabashed enthusiasm; from their love of Israel and their belief that the world must feel the same way about the country that they do – or their utter lack of care about how others see them.

Lessons learned on the road from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles California.