August 20, 2012
The Israeli Family
This is the truly inspiring story of a family putting every single bit of selfishness aside to help Israel: Chami and Oksana Zemach, from the small town, Kadesh-Barnea, Israel, decided that Israel’s lack of proper PR skills will not get in the way of helping the world understand the real Israel. A year ago, the couple, along with their three daughters Gali, Tamar and Michal, went on a seven-month trip through Europe and the U.S and told the locals the stories they never get to hear on the media. They met up with more than 300 groups, and through their personal stories, told the untold story of Israel. It cost them about 600,000NIS, spent from their own pocket, to reach many people and touch many hearts. There was no secret motive, only the wish to make a difference. Now, they started a project called “The Israeli Family”, in which they wish to continue their trip around the world, and send more families abroad to tell their own stories of Israel.
“For two years we planned our trip, which was meant to go around the world. We made connections worldwide and published ourselves in different places, calling people to come and meet with us. The purpose was to talk only to people who want to talk to us, and not force ourselves. We left a year ago, on August 1st, and began our journey. We were six weeks in Europe and six weeks in the States. In this time, we enjoyed great popularity and got massive media coverage in the States, in Europe and in Israel. We were hosted by NBC news and other channels, and were interviewed on the radio and in print media. We had 300 meetings in that time, in which we tried and managed to show Israel from a normative point of view. We tried to avoid talking about politics, and the main purpose was to say that when we wake up in the morning, we don’t just worry about the possibility that Iran would cast a nuclear bomb or something. Our say was that there is normal life in Israel every day. My wife, who’s a Chef, taught cooking classes, in which she told her own Israeli story, as a person who made Aliyah. My daughters sing and play the guitar, and they met with teenagers to talk about music and culture. I gave lectures and presentations, but the most important thing to us was to allow as many questions as possible to be asked. People don’t see Israel as a regular tourism destination. Most tourists who come to Israel are Jews or religious people. This is a wall that is hard to break due to the media focus and exaggeration on the negative sides of Israel. However, we were surprised to see many pre-judgments shatter.”
“In the several times we were asked about the conflict, we knew it’s not our job to explain Israel’s foreign affairs. What we did to was to show the complexity. Those questions came from a place of no knowing many things, which is natural when you live someplace else. We tried to show that the purpose was to learn and understand, and not to judge.”
“Our last stop was L.A, and then we had to return home, because we ran out of money. The plan was to travel around the world, and we figured out we would be able to raise more money in the process, to help us finish the journey. But after seven months, we had to cut the trip short. It wasn’t a disaster or anything, but it does feel like a miss. Now we are trying to create the sequel and go to the other side of the world as planned.”
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