Yoni Mann

What is your personal connection to Zionism?

How do you define Zionism, and what does it mean to you to be a Zionist today?

Yoni Mann

Yoni Mann

Zionism is what I have devoted my life to. I have grown up in a Sephardic Israeli household in San Francisco, CA. My parents, who left Israel roughly 30 years ago, have always made sure my siblings and I were connected to the land of Israel. Having visited every three years or so growing up, Israel became a part of my personal identity. I was able to form connections with my parents’ very large family, and to see what these Israeli people were all about. Having learned about the extermination of the Jews in World War II and watching Israeli buses explode on the news with my father during the first and second Intifada, I came to realize the importance of the Jews having a land for themselves in the land of Israel. Zionism, to me, is not only the national movement of the Jewish people to establish a homeland, and live in self-governance, in the land of Israel. Zionism is in fact, the survival of the Jewish People, culture, history and traditions. Without Zionism, we are a people wandering from land to land, always a guest in someone else’s land. History has shown that although we Jews have thrived and lived comfortably during periods of time in the Diaspora, eventually, those periods come to an end and the good and welfare of the Jews is met with anti-Semitism and persecution.

Zionism is especially essential today in helping shape the Jewish identity of my generation in the face of increasing assimilation. Jews are marrying non-Jews and are cutting off thousands of years of sacrifices made by our ancestors in order to ensure that we Jews have a future, as Jews. More and more young Jews are taking the Jewish State of Israel for granted. My generation doesn’t know a world when there was no state for the Jews. My generation doesn’t know a world when 6,000,000 Jews were murdered. My generation knows, especially in America, that those are all events and occurrences of the past. They think that somehow Israel was born overnight and that they are invincible. In fact, they don’t think at all about how Israel was established, and the need for a Jewish homeland – why should they?

To be a Zionist today is to once again establish the need and importance for a Jewish state in a playing field where the majority of Jews are living comfortably, primarily in the United States and in Israel. A playing field where most Jews today are not endangered like Jews were 70 or even 700 years ago. Being a Zionist today, is continuing support for a Jewish-majority state, dealing with Jewish debates within the state of Israel, toiling with the idea of Aliyah, and strengthening the Jewish identity of young Jews with Israel at its core. In a day and age where young Jews on college campuses are being faced with the delegitimization of Zionism and the Jewish State of Israel, it is vital that we educate, inspire, and once again, take back Zionism.