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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?


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 – 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 was one of the original students at Ohr Somayach in 1974 and later a director of Discovery International with Aish HaTorah. He has alos worked in Israel's high tech sector and with film media.