As a Zionist, I am a natural dreamer. Early Zionists dreamt of a homeland for the Jewish people, who were spread out all over the world. Truly a dream come true and one of which we should all be proud.
For many years, I have been active in various local, national and international organizations. My dream has always been for all of the Jewish organizations in our community to successfully come together and celebrate the one thing we all have in common: the State of Israel. Along with Josh Weintraub and Ellen Lightman, I am privileged to serve as co-chair of the recently formed Baltimore Israel Coalition, whose mission is to do just that.
A few weeks ago, the Coalition, made up of more than 24 organizations and joined by more than 30 other Baltimore institutions, celebrated Israel’s 65th birthday with a huge celebration at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills Jewish Community Center, which concluded with a Matisyahu concert. The concert attracted many teens and young adults. The day was full of activities, music and programs for all ages and included a parade. What struck me most during this important celebration was the true sense of community we have here in Baltimore. The celebration brought us all together.
Organizations and religious institutions with different messaging and goals were able to sit side by side and happily participate, while getting to share their Israel-related missions with festival-goers and each other. I saw many people notice and enjoy the unity of these organizations that have very different yet equally important community roles.
This festival was attended by thousands of people, but what captured my attention above the numbers was that all different segments of our community were celebrating as one. Jews of all types — young and old, religious and secular — came together to celebrate a very important commonality: Israel. We may have different perspectives on religion. We may have different perspectives of the conflict in the Middle East. But the one thing that must continue to unite us is our compassion for Israel and the importance our homeland plays in our lives as Jews. Our detractors and enemies make no such distinctions; nor should we.
It is equally important to stand together in celebrating Israel during the good times as it is during the bad times. American Jews must support our Jewish state. One of the reasons the Coalition was created was to expose the beauty, advancements and uniqueness of Israel. The focus of the celebration was to share in all of the positive aspects of our homeland and how we, in Baltimore, and individuals around the world can benefit from its existence.
I am thrilled to say that my dream came true. Baltimoreans celebrated Israel’s 65th birthday together, and what a wonderful day it was.