Journeying through the real Israel

Polish and American teens taste a side of the country not usually experienced by tour groups.

July 25, 2018 17:45
A group shot showing both American and Polish tour members onThe Roots Israel Service Learning Adven

A group shot showing both American and Polish tour members onThe Roots Israel Service Learning Adventure. (photo credit: PAUL ALSTER)


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IT USED to be the case that an overwhelming majority of Jews in the Diaspora from all shades of the political spectrum supported the State of Israel, but it seems times have changed. That tacit approval is no longer a ‘given.’ More than ever, if Israel is to retain its majority Jewish identity, Jewish youth from across the globe must feel a positive but realistic connection to the land of their forefathers. With antisemitism on the rise once again in Europe and elsewhere, Israel remains a haven for those fearing or fleeing persecution, but when they arrive in this ancient land do they really know what awaits them? The huge growth of Jewish youth tours that give youngsters a taste of Israel are a tremendously positive thing, but it is sometimes questionable how realistic a picture of Israel they present. Is modern Israeli life and day-to-day reality really epitomized by the Tel Aviv beachfront, the Dead Sea, the Old City of Jerusalem, Masada, a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, Eilat etc.? The answer, I would suggest, is a very definite “no.”

So, if this is the basis for making a decision about potentially emigrating here, it is not unreasonable to suggest that that decision might be based on a misleading, gilded impression. The harsh truth is that Israel, while a great place to be in so many ways, is not an easy place to live, and getting by day to day and dealing with the particular problems life throws at you here is no easy matter.


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