Sep 7, 2014  By Vivian Grossman  Category: Travel,

Fear not, the younger generation gets it

Photo: Alicia Yaffe
JNF Social Media Executive Committee member Anne Taillandier samples the crop at Earth's Promise, a cooperative community garden farmed mostly by new immigrants from Ethiopia. 

I've often wondered whether generations to come will continue to fan the flame of Zionism. Will they understand the importance of how and why a strong Israel is critical to the quality of their lives in America? I've wondered how, with Holocaust survivors leaving us daily, the next generation will connect the dots and understand how Jews have survived for centuries despite countless attempts to rid us from the earth.
After recently returning from another amazing trip to Israel, I fear not. I spent a week with a group of rock-star social-media professionals from around the country who represent the leaders of tomorrow. They gave up their very valuable time to travel to Israel with the JNF and keep the message going. They're delightful, bright, funny, and serious, and they get that Zionism has a capital Z and is something to embrace. It's a word to be held in the highest esteem, not one to be disgraced.  

Israel is an amazing place. It's the only place in the world where people move to a new country and bounce off the plane with tears of joy and pride in their eyes. They get off the plane dancing and singing -- to be greeted by hundreds of people who came out at 6 a.m.  to meet them, cheering and crying, waving flags of welcome.  Where else would that happen?  We were fortunate enough to be at a ceremony to greet 330 new olim on a Nefesh B'Nefeshflight, with over 130 singles heading right into the IDF. The younger generation gets it, they really do. More than 100 moved to Israel at a time of war to make their difference in their homeland. Amazing. Thrilling. Wonderful. 

Photo: Anne Taillandier
Committee members get ready to greet new immigrants arriving on a 
Nefesh B'Nefesh flight. From left, they are Eric Elkins, Jordana Reim, Alicia 
Yaffe, and Joey Blumenfeld.
And the pride. I saw a grandfather welcome his granddaughter as a new citizen. They were both crying and laughing with utter joy.  His dream come true. Her dream just beginning. L'dor v'dor,  from generation to generation.  
The week now seems like a blur -- up early,  shlep through the north, Akko, the Negev, Be'er Sheva, Jerusalem. I was just there the week before on a solidarity mission (read my impressions of that experience here) -- tensions ran high, sirens were a constant, rockets regular. Everyone was constantly aware of where rockets were headed. This time, a fragile ceasefire held most of the time and we never experienced a rocket or siren. Not one in our group expressed true concerns about canceling prior to going. I know they will remember and be processing this experience for quite some time. I will too. I am always so thrilled when I can be a part of adding kindling to a Zionist flame. It truly motivates me, and perhaps it's one of my purposes here on Earth. This week we kindled the flame.
I've tried in messages from past trips to share the sights, sounds, and smells. This time my takeaway was different. This time it was about vision and creativity. It was about love, about how love grows in Israel, and believe me, it really does (get ready to see a lot of the hashtag  #LoveGrowsInIsrael soon). Stay tuned for much more on how you can help share JNF's work and message over social media. And if you're attending JNF's national conference in Los Angeles this weekend, be sure to join a session on social media, at 1 p.m. Friday, led by the very pros pictured below who just traveled to Israel! 
JNF's Social Media Executive Committee poses with JNF staff on the roof of the building that houses the Jewish National Fund's Jerusalem office.