Board Chair Reflections: Kvetching

In the aftermath of a very controversial election in Israel, let us take a moment and assess the non-political situation.  In neighboring Lebanon, Hezbollah has more missiles aimed at Israel (approximately 130,000) than most countries even possess.  In Gaza, Hamas and their “brethren” work daily to bring the destruction of Israel, terrorizing our partner community in Sha’ar HaNegev.  Iran, indisputably in pursuit of nuclear weapons, openly expresses its aim to use them to destroy the Jewish homeland.  In Syria, a sworn enemy has used chemical weapons on his own people!  And I thought my neighbor was pissing me off!  In the United Nations, Israel is singled out as the only country whose very existence is challenged by a majority of the members.  In America and Europe, bastions of progressive democracy, BDS campaigns flourish on college campuses and Jews are under increasing verbal and physical assault, just for being Jews.

No wonder Jews complain so much.

No group on earth has historically been subject to the level of discrimination and hostility as Jews – none.  Stereotypes of kvetching, hypochondria and a host of other psychological ailments may be well deserved amongst us.  After all, with a history like this, who wouldn’t complain?  In a country like Israel, surrounded by enemies 10 times it’s size who actively seek its annihilation, what’s to be happy about?  The death?  The destruction?  Oy!

Hatikva – translated “The Hope”.  Israel’s national anthem.  Israel’s eternal mantra.  Despite history.  Despite living daily in a war zone and amongst people who find valor in blowing themselves and you up, Israelis sing of hope.  Israel’s secret to survival and thriving is in its commitment to hope.  It is in its resiliency to surmount any challenge.  But, maybe, their key to success is also happiness, a verifiable characteristic of high achievers.  In various research studies, happiness is not found to be the result of success but an essential factor to achieving success.  But, are Israelis happy? 
On the UN World Happiness Report, the U.S. ranks 19th.  The U.K., 15th.  Israel…13th. Of the approximately 195 countries on this planet, the targets of hatred and constant violence are happier than 93% of the people on earth.  The Start-Up Nation that, pound-for-pound, has no challengers across numerous fields of accomplishment, achieved its near-miraculous existence because Israelis persevere, never quit, stick together…and are happy.

I hear often, from young and old alike, that Israel has lost their support.  At Federation, wading into political waters is dangerous and certainly outside of our mission.  Our mission is to support the people of Israel – to show the Israelis that we share in their happiness and success.  In Sha’ar Hanegev, our sister community on the Gaza border, our contributions and efforts have impacted hundreds of lives ravaged by missile and balloon attacks.  This column is my last before visiting Sha’ar HaNegev with Michael Jeser and Alan Viterbi to attend the Viterbi Arts Festival (another of our community’s impacts).  Embarrassingly, I have not been to Israel in 8 years.  I look forward to experiencing and witnessing how our community has helped those who desperately need our support, regardless of politics.  I look forward to gathering with Israelis, simply to share in their…happiness.


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