We need each other

Embracing differences, empowering unity

In Short

No matter where we live and what lifestyle we chose, our pasts are linked and so is our future. Although we may see many different groups of Jews within Israel and those abroad as separate entities, all Jewish people belong to the same tribe.

Today, with so much turmoil taking place, many Jews around the world are feeling disenfranchised. In Israel itself, many are afraid their homeland is being pulled apart at the seams. From my perspective, the massive protests and concern for our future — on every side — is an indication that people care. And that’s a good thing. 

As Jews, we do not have the luxury of being complacent, nor is it a part of our DNA. Had this been the case, we would likely have disappeared as a people long ago. Our identity and our heritage are something we have always fought for — and there’s no reason to think we would stop now. It’s a positive trait and testimony to how deeply we care about our nation and our homeland. I come from Russia, where people are united by apathy and you can see how that has turned out. 

No matter where we live and what lifestyle we chose, our pasts are linked and so is our future. Although we may see many different groups of Jews within Israel and those abroad as separate entities, all Jewish people belong to the same tribe. We are linked by our roots and this makes us one entity. The world sees us as Jews: not religious or secular, right wing or liberal, Israeli Jews or American Jews — just Jews. 

In unity there is strength. The Diaspora will always need to help Israel remain strong because whether they consider it or not, Israel is part of their identity and their roots. The stronger Israel is, the stronger their roots are, and the more they, their families and their communities will thrive. At the same time, Israel will always need the Diaspora. Recognition for the homeland of the Jewish people must happen both from within and from outside. Israel is stronger with a vibrant range of people, opinions and lifestyles. It’s like one heart shared by different organisms.

How incredible that, for the first time in nearly two thousand years, we are privileged to live in a land of national sovereignty, security, economic development and scientific growth. This privilege brings with it the responsibility of bringing together different types of Jews. It’s time to embrace our common values and traditions, and work together on a vision for the future. One that has room for every one. 

These bonds have always been vital, but they are even more important today with the growing antisemitism and unrest everywhere in the world. We are seeing an escalation of antisemitism across the world, with the number of incidents rising at an alarming rate.  Even Steven Spielberg, in an interview with Stephen Colbert said he was concerned that antisemitism is “no longer lurking but standing proud.” 

The protests in Israel over the judicial reform, the increase in terrorism, the economic volatility and the instability people sense because of the fear highlighted in different media — all make it crucial that we strengthen our connections to each other and to our country. 

As a young country, it is natural that we will be continuously evolving. The current period of reform brings with it opportunity — the opportunity to become stronger by nurturing our joint cultural identity as a people, as part of the same story. Because we all share the same roots, building a more robust joint foundation can make a positive impact on our future as a people. 

As an optimist I believe in a bright future for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. In our past, the country was built by Jews from all walks of life, and the same is true of our future. Today, many philanthropists are dedicated to initiating and fostering programs that promote Jewish values, education, health services and civil liberties. With so much change taking place, these projects that empower unity have become even more essential. 

Revitalizing the Diaspora Museum and seeing it through its rebirth as ANU — Museum of the Jewish People, was specifically geared towards connecting Jews to their roots and to each other. And, happily, we are seeing wonderful results already.  ANU – Museum of the Jewish People is a perfect example of how to unite different kinds of Jews from across the world by introducing them to their shared heritage and helping them visualize our common future. It’s a place that unites, captures, and represents each and every one of us. It is how Jews around the world should view the State of Israel — as our home and a place where everything is possible together. 

The changes and upheaval taking place are an opportunity for anyone involved in the not-for-profit world to make a difference — now and into the future. It’s time to take action — together.

Irina Nevzlin is chair of the board of directors of ANU – Museum of the Jewish People.