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Where are the American Zionists?

It really struck me watching the parade in NYC, why are American Jews not coming in droves to Israel for the summer! Are they scared because of the war? That is understandable but so are their brothers and sisters who live here. But we get beyond being scared, we get proud, we get tough, we grow, we bond, we identify with our past and we know what is our future. What parent wouldn’t want their children to have these values? Instead they teach them to hide when your only Jewish country in the world is under attack?

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Why not teach them to volunteer, to come and give strength and spirit to those of us who are here all year long? To help the economy, to go on a kibbutz, to fill in for a soldier who is really risking his life by covering his job – whatever it should be. Come pack lunches, calm the elderly or the Holocaust survivors who take it the hardest.

What is more important, swimming in the lake, horseback riding at camp, getting stoned in the day and drunk at night? I would be much more worried about my children if these were the values I was teaching them.

I left America on my own when I was 19 on the 4th of July 1974. This year marked forty years in Israel. Many kids between 17 – 21 come here on BirthRight and that’s great. (Or at least better than not coming). But there is also Sarel (bet you never even heard of it – http://www.sar-el.org/). These guys are way beyond “Birth Right” they are about “Life Privilege.”

They have plenty of programs, they can handle the numbers. The only thing I can tell you is that the Americans that come here now and spend their summer on a program like this will have a very hard time relating to the frightened kids who hid in the States. Those kids will just be older children while the ones that came to Israel will be men and women.

If you are a parent – you gave your child life. Now it might time to also give them meaning for that li

Volunteers preparing food packages.

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Gedaliah Gurfein moved from New York to Jerusalem in 1974 and received rabbinic ordination in 1979. He has been a teacher at Aish HaTorah and Israelite, both in Jerusalem's Old City. Since 1992 he has worked in Israel's high tech sector and with film media. This article originally appeared in Kol Chevra. For more information, contact emunawitt14@yahoo.com

133 COMMENTS

  1. Normally we would be there this summer as in summers past. This year we made an unusual (for us) trip in February and will be returning for our daughter’s wedding in early November. No fear of hamas. They are vermin, soon to be exterminated once and for all. Am Yisroel Chai!!!

  2. I have been several times. Every time I have been something has happened before during or after I was there. Don’t be scared. One year I had a front row view from a friends apartment in Jerusalem on Shabbat of rockets in and out of West Bank when Arafat was still around. It will never end till Meshiach comes. Just go and support them if you can afford it. If you can not afford it buy something from Israel, or donate to IDF or other Jewish/Messianic/ or Christian organizations (whatever your religion is) that help the people of Israel. There are so many ways to help. G-d bless Israel! Am Israel Chai!

  3. I have been several times. Every time I have been something has happened before during or after I was there. Don’t be scared. One year I had a front row view from a friends apartment in Jerusalem on Shabbat of rockets in and out of West Bank when Arafat was still around. It will never end till Meshiach comes. Just go and support them if you can afford it. If you can not afford it buy something from Israel, or donate to IDF or other Jewish/Messianic/ or Christian organizations (whatever your religion is) that help the people of Israel. There are so many ways to help. G-d bless Israel! Am Israel Chai!

  4. I have been several times. Every time I have been something has happened before during or after I was there. Don’t be scared. One year I had a front row view from a friends apartment in Jerusalem on Shabbat of rockets in and out of West Bank when Arafat was still around. It will never end till Meshiach comes. Just go and support them if you can afford it. If you can not afford it buy something from Israel, or donate to IDF or other Jewish/Messianic/ or Christian organizations (whatever your religion is) that help the people of Israel. There are so many ways to help. G-d bless Israel! Am Israel Chai!

  5. they are there, just look around; my friends kids are there; and some are staying on through the Fall; there happen to be a lot of Americans in Israel right now. Maybe contact the AACI for your facts, we’re also lifetime members of AACI

  6. they are there, just look around; my friends kids are there; and some are staying on through the Fall; there happen to be a lot of Americans in Israel right now. Maybe contact the AACI for your facts, we’re also lifetime members of AACI

  7. they are there, just look around; my friends kids are there; and some are staying on through the Fall; there happen to be a lot of Americans in Israel right now. Maybe contact the AACI for your facts, we’re also lifetime members of AACI

  8. they are there, just look around; my friends kids are there; and some are staying on through the Fall; there happen to be a lot of Americans in Israel right now. Maybe contact the AACI for your facts, we’re also lifetime members of AACI

  9. I would think that like us, they’re broke. Were not Jewish, but were definately broke that is… Fewer people are getting a vacation nowadays, just can not afford it. Our economy is bad, and going to get worse quickly, if next year they have to face raising the debt ceiling issue with the inability to do so, and so then the fact that the US is living on borrowed money, and debt so big we can not pay the minimum payment on it sets in, the socialism crushes us, gas prices go through the roof in taxation, and our economy is finally hit the proverbial rock bottom. We have been waiting for it, were already down, and the end will hit when no more raising the debt ceiling happens, and that will be as soon as the Democrat leaves office, and they will bring in a Republican and try to make it appear to be their fault.

  10. I would think that like us, they’re broke. Were not Jewish, but were definately broke that is… Fewer people are getting a vacation nowadays, just can not afford it. Our economy is bad, and going to get worse quickly, if next year they have to face raising the debt ceiling issue with the inability to do so, and so then the fact that the US is living on borrowed money, and debt so big we can not pay the minimum payment on it sets in, the socialism crushes us, gas prices go through the roof in taxation, and our economy is finally hit the proverbial rock bottom. We have been waiting for it, were already down, and the end will hit when no more raising the debt ceiling happens, and that will be as soon as the Democrat leaves office, and they will bring in a Republican and try to make it appear to be their fault.

  11. Note: Matt Solomon is the Online Opinions Editor for The Jewish Press and a former student of Rabbi Gedaliah Gurfein’s: I never told you but my first trip to Israel was with Volunteers for Israel the precursor to Sar-el. It was the summer of 1983 and boys my age were deep in Lebanon and the NYTimes was slamming them and Israel. I knew I had to do something so I volunteers and was sent to a dump of a base deep in the desert of the Negev doing manual labor of, in all honesty, no benefit. I LOVED IT! It changed my life and I decided to do Hebrew U 1 yr program for my Junior yr abroad a few months late. During that year I grew close to Yehuda Appel at Aish and years later when I returned to Israel, Yehuda got me to do Discovery where I met, drumroll…YOU, Gedalia, one of Jerusalem’s most creative and charismatic teachers of Torah!

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