Jon Goldberg, CEO OF The Atlantic Jewish Council, looks at Zion

"Looking at Zion a Jewish perspective on Israel” is an online project that aims to present a more comprehensive look into the Israel- Diaspora relationship. In order to reach this goal we will present members in Jewish communities around the world a series of questions, asking them to articulate their thoughts and feelings towards Israel.
The interviewee -  "My name is Jon Goldberg (Born February 2nd 1946), I Have been CEO for over 23 years. I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, as was my father before me in 1913. My mother was 4th generation from Montreal. My father’s family settled here in 1912 from Braddock Pennsylvania, he was the fifth of seven children and the first born in Canada. I attended “Chader” and was Bar Mitzvaed in 1959. In the 50s and 60s I attended Jewish camps in the summer both in Canada and the U.S. I was also involved with Canadian Young Judea as a “madrich” for many years. Camp Kadimah, a Zionist camp is located 100km from Halifax, I went there as a camper, councilor, and head staff member for almost 11 years.
"I graduated with a B.A from a local University and went into the family business (Retail) for 15 years. During that time, I was involved as a lay leader in UJA, JNF, and Israel Bonds. These last 23+ years I have been CEO of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Canada (The Atlantic Jewish Council)."
In your opinion, what importance, if any, does the existence of a Jewish state has to you personally and to Jewish people in general?
“The state of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. Both historical and present. I grew up with the “State”. Born in 1946 I was raised on Young Judea from the time I was 6 until 18. The state of Israel is the corner stone of my Jewishness while I live here in the Diaspora. I believe that Israel represents the Jewish homeland, the Jewish faith, and the survival of the Jewish people for over a 5776 years.”
Do you feel committed in some way to defend the future existence of Israel?
“Most certainly. I have spent my entire adult life supporting the state both financially, spiritually, and physically. I have worked for Israel awareness, Israel advocacy, and as a defender of our State to the media and the public. I will continue to do so until I die.”
Do you feel morally responsible for Israel’s actions (such as its management of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)?
“Not really. Although, I don’t quite feel that Israel is aware of or cares about the reaction in the Diaspora to some of its activities in the conflict. Obviously in our world, I am held indirectly responsible by the public for any bad press or perceived mismanagement by Israel.”
In your opinion, what is the main thing Israelis fail to understand about the reality of being Jewish outside of Israel?
“The Israelis believe that because they live in Israel that makes them Jewish. They fail to understand that in the Diaspora one needs to practice the faith in order to retain our Jewishness. I feel that in some cases they don’t want to understand this. They also fail to understand how the political actions of Israel can have an effect on the Jews on the Western democracies.”
How would you describe Israel’s policy (formally and in practice) regarding its relationship with the Diaspora?
“For those of us in the smaller communities, it’s very difficult. Again the policy of Israel sometimes can affect our relationship with the non-Jews. However, in my opinion, Israel must give back to the Diaspora. We need more Schlichout, send from Israel to communities paid by Israel. I mean, teachers, camp directors, fund raisers, and cadres on campus. Israel should pay for most of this, it’s time they give back.”
In your opinion, does Israel have an obligation to defend and help Jewish communities in need?
“Most certainly, from Yemen to Ethiopia, from East to West, that should be one of the main goals.”
Have you ever been to Israel?
“I first went to Israel when I was 19, then during the 67 war and in total, I guess over 20 times.”
If an Israeli tourist should ever come across your hometown, which experience should he/she not miss?
“The ocean, citadel, and the people.”
For more interviews with prominent members in Jewish communities around the world go to -