The Budowsphere #4-
AHA and the Importance of Zionism
I’d like to talk about the importance of Zionism to Abrams Hebrew Academy. Some of the questions in the Measuring Success Survey in which AHA parents participated focused on the main reasons parents send their children to a day school. Abrams parents responded that one of the most important drivers in enrollment is the teaching of a commitment to Israel. For me, a commitment to Israel is like breathing. Each Jewish person connects to the land of Israel in her/his own way, whether you are moved because it is the Jewish homeland; because it is God’s land; or for whatever reason that resonates with you- if you are a Jew, there is always a connection to Israel.
The word Zionism has been controversial since the secular Zionists laid the foundation for a Jewish State in 1948. The most religious Jews wanted to separate themselves from the establishment of a secular State. However, in my opinion, there is room for both religious and secular Jews to be Zionistic in their own ways. Secular Jews are proud that they took a land that was primarily sand and turned it into the proverbial land of milk and honey, as well as a modern, technologically advanced country. Religious Jews experience the holiness of the land- from Chevron to Rachel’s tomb, the Cave of the Patriarchs, and the Kotel- the history and tradition of the Jewish religion lives on to this day. Each person, no matter what his/her belief, can be Zionistic in his/her own way.
I am comfortable with the fact that Abrams is a Zionistic school. When I was a student at Ner Israel Rabbinical College one of my teachers was Reb Kaplan, and I was later surprised to hear that he had moved to Jerusalem after being at the Yeshiva for 20 years. When I asked him why he decided to move to Israel he told me that the greatest Torah scholars and Baal Teshuvahs came out of Israel, and he wanted to live there, as well.
We at Abrams represent a kaleidoscope of Zionism. I am proud of my teachers from Lakewood, who all embrace Zionism in their own ways, and in our Hebrew language teachers who teach our students Hebrew language with a religious emphasis.
I strive to bring Zionism alive at Abrams in many ways throughout the year- we host Bnot Sherut women, visitors from the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind, IDF soldiers, and others who all interact with our students and make modern Israel come alive. We collaborate with The Technion and the Weizmann Institute in our math and science programs, and we join Tal Brody in Israel at a Maccabi Israel game each year.
At Abrams we believe that Zionism should be at the forefront of our children’s’ experience throughout their education, culminating in the annual 8th grade graduation trip to Israel. This is an experience that students dream of from their first day at the school, and this is our goal- to instill a life-long commitment to the State of Israel.
I do not see any contradiction in religious beliefs and a commitment to Zionism- we promote love of Israel and Torah together.