Pick a Jewish holiday, any holiday. Let’s take one of my favorites: Sukkot. This is a holiday bursting with meaning. Inside a sukkah, we can experience the fragility of life and appreciate some great Jewish values, such as gratitude, modesty and hospitality.
Now, ask yourself: After the eight days of the holiday are over and you put away your sukkah, do you also put away the spiritual meaning you gained during the week?
If, for example, during the holiday you reconnect with the virtue of gratitude, shouldn’t you keep that connection all year long?
The Kotzker Rebbe once wrote that when we speak of keeping Shabbat, the deeper, spiritual meaning is that we’re supposed to keep Shabbat with us during the week. In other words, Shabbat’s message of peace and renewal is always relevant, always appropriate, always needed.
It’s the same with Buy Israel Week.
The notion of “one week” is not there to be taken literally. It’s there only to concentrate the mind on a great Jewish value — supporting Israel.
Buy Israel Week is always relevant, always appropriate, always needed.
When I try to convey the importance of supporting Israel to my kids, I remind them of how much they love their bubbes and zaydes. I ask them to visualize a long, human chain of 100 bubbes and 100 zaydes holding hands in a big field. These are your grandparents, I tell them, your direct ancestors, going all the way back to the destruction of the Second Temple.
For almost 2,000 years, I say to them, your bubbes and zaydes prayed every day to return to Zion, to Jerusalem, to the land of our Bible. And you are privileged to live in the generation that has fulfilled that dream. How fortunate you are!
But that’s just one side of the story. There’s a catch, I tell them, and it’s this: With blessings come responsibilities.
Now that we have regained this priceless gift of our own nation, we have so much more to lose, the stakes are so much higher, the responsibilities so much greater.
It is the fate of the Jewish nation that we seem to always be put in very difficult situations.
It’s hard to imagine a more difficult story than the rebirth of Israel. As soon as we came out of the womb, enemy armies swarmed us. Somehow, we fought them off and survived.
This pattern has continued for the 64 years of our existence. Enemies attack us, and, somehow, we fight them off and survive.
But as Israel survived, another miracle was happening.
While the eyes of the world were on the wars that threatened Israel’s existence, little Israel started building things.
It built roads, highways, farms and desalination plants.
It built hospitals, universities, high-rises, hotels and brand-new cities.
While being virtually under siege, Israel built the freest and most sophisticated civil society in the Middle East.
By the time this little country turned 60, it had turned into an improbable Startup Nation, its citizens winning Nobel Prizes, developing cures for diseases and inventing new technologies.
It embraced more than a million new immigrants, spawned a thriving, homegrown culture in music, film and the arts, and sent rescue teams on humanitarian missions all over the globe.
Of course Israel, with all of its achievements, is far from perfect. It has tried but failed to make peace with all of its neighbors. It is what I call a “mess in progress.”
But what sets the country truly apart from its neighbors is its “corrective mechanism,” rooted in the sacred right to protest and dissent. For every flaw or problem you find, you’re bound to find a group or entity fighting to fix it. The solutions don’t always come, but the corrective engine never stops roaring.
Perhaps because of this corrective noise, Israel’s problems are much more visible to the outside world. This is a sign not of weakness, but of success. Israel is an open society, with no fear to show its faults.
And still, despite this success — or maybe because of it — Israel’s enemies have not gone away. If they can’t fight Israel with bullets, they will fight it with boycotts.
Buy Israel Week is a direct response to this challenge.
For many years now, the enemies of the Jewish state have been on a global mission to undermine and delegitimize the successful Zionist enterprise. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is the centerpiece of their effort. It doesn’t matter if these attacks are unfair or hypocritical. What matters is that they are real, and we must respond.
How do we respond? The Jewish way — by transformation. By transforming boycott into “buycott.”
If our enemies tell the world to stop buying Israeli products, then we shall encourage the world to do the exact opposite: Buy Israeli products.
Optimism is a deep Jewish value with a long and complicated history. Despite all the hardships and tragedies we have suffered in our long history, we never stop looking forward with hope and strength.
The ultimate Jewish question is not “What shall we believe?” or “What shall we think?” but “What shall we do?”
During Buy Israel Week, we shall all buy Israeli products.
And when the “holiday week” is over, we shall Buy Israel Forever.
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