The past couple of years were a time of concern and frustration on the part of Jewish leadership, who were in search of “next generation Zionists”. To these leaders I say “fear no more”. 5771 promises to be one of continued renaissance in the Jewish world. The Jewish People need not resign to past achievements to find the courage to confront the challenges of today. Instead, look to creative initiatives sprouting in communities across North & South America, Europe, Israel, and other communities across the Jewish world. A young and innovative generation has revealed itself as inspired and ready to take hold of their destiny; to form a “ViZion” for tomorrow.
These young Jews are laying a common ground for dialogue and perspective on what it means to be a Jewish professional today. Where in the past Jewish institutions and movements found common ground by reacting to crises facing Israel and the Jewish People, today’s Jewish professionals are proactive. They are interested in collaborating beyond political and religious ideology and in working together to create transformative experiences for others to develop their own link to Jewish life and Israel. If Leon Pinsker and Theodore Herzl interpreted their Zionism in reaction to anti-Semitism, Jewish dispersion, and on defining the post-exilic Jew, 21st century Jews are initiating a ”reclamation of Zionism” as a source of inspiration and creativity. Reclaiming Zionism has become a prism through which each and every one of us imagines the potential of Jewish Peoplehood, the potential of Israel.
The call for a focus on Jewish Peoplehood comes from the depths of our collective Jewish consciousness, but has only recently resurfaced to the foreground of Jewish activism. As evidenced by the revised mandate of the Jewish Agency – focusing on Jewish Peoplehood over Aliyah – the time has come once again for a return to Peoplehood. We cannot afford to wait another 2,000 years, as our parents and grandparents did, to realize our dreams. We must learn from the past and work to ensure that our dreams are realized in the present.
Jewish tradition teaches us to actively engage in healing the world – Tikkun Olam. However, presumed in that message is the pre-requisite to also actively engage in Tikkun Israel – in healing ourselves. “ViZion”, a project of the American Zionist Movement (AZM), is engaged in Tikkun Israel, investing in the future of the Jewish People – the future of Israel. Our network focuses on:
1. Connecting Jewish young professionals working in Zionist, Israeli or Jewish not-for-profits.
2. Creating a network of like minded professionals sharing the challenges facing the Jewish communal world and their own professional development.
3. Cultivating the future of Zionist and Jewish communal leaders in a safe and open environment.
It is our responsibility as the “next generation of Zionists” to inspire others to be proactive (and not reactionary) towards strengthening Jewish Peoplehood. ViZion is the space where productive dialogue takes place; where encounters create sparks of innovation, leadership, and action. If the past couple of years were a time of concern and frustration on the part of Jewish leadership in search of ”next generation Zionists”, I say “fear no more”. As we embark on 5771, let’s look back at our accomplishments, not for self-gratification or ammunition in defense of Israel’s antagonists, but for conviction and creative inspiration. Let’s stand atop the mountain of contributions our People have made and together create a meaningful ViZion for Jewish Peoplehood and generations to come.
L’Shanna Tova u’metukah – Wishing us all a sweet and good new year,
Rabbi Leor Sinai