Alex Willick Essay

My Personal Connection to Zionism

Aside from a love and genuine passion for the belief in the existence of a Jewish homeland, being a Zionist today entails responsibility.  To be an effective Zionist, one must be knowledgeable about the facts of the times, and be able to intelligently communicate that information to others.  In a world utterly filled with those ready to attack the existence of the Jewish State, the Zionist must feel empowered to stand up for what they believe in…for what is right.  Never has the legitimacy of Israel been more contested than in these times, and the Zionist must be prepared to defend its existence using whatever strengths they posses.  Not every Zionist will uphold their responsibility in the same way, but we all hold ourselves accountable for our part, whether that is through speech, written word, volunteerism, or even aliyah.

My connection to Zionism arose from multiple levels.  Since I was a small child, I have heard my grandfather tell stories about his role in the creation of the State of Israel.  As an Egyptian Jew living in Alexandria during the 1940’s, he underwent much turmoil as a result of his background.  Nevertheless, he maintained a strong Jewish identity and was chosen to work in Egypt with the Haganah and the Mossad L’Aliyah Bet, to smuggle Jewish people out of his native Arab land and into the land that would become Israel.  His work earned him much respect and notoriety from what was then the foundation for the Israeli government.

My grandfather’s story, along with countless others I have heard about the work and passion put in to creation of the State of Israel, are an inspiration to someone like me.  Sometimes I feel that as an American of my generation, I am inclined to take its existence for granted, and cannot comprehend a world that did not have a Jewish homeland.

Once I began to visit however, my connection deepened enormously.  Experiencing first hand a land where almost everyone around me was Jewish was overwhelming at first, but felt beautifully comfortable at the same time.  Interacting with Israelis who grew up thousands of miles away from me, yet shared a similar identity and moral background was eye-opening, as well.  Furthermore, my connection, though my family is not Israeli, is founded in the hope and strength I’ve seen throughout the land during my little time there.  Jews have a spirit that can change the world when it is allowed to flourish, and the State of Israel is one of the only places where that ability is granted.  It would be an honor to serve in concert with that incredibly motivating spirit, and make a mark of my own.