Congratulations to the Federation of Zionist Youth (FZY) for its Aim Higher event which was a successful and interesting and inspiring experience. An early highlight came when Rabbi Rowe spoke to us about Zionism using the Torah, Talmud and other Jewish texts as springboards for discussion. I could have listened to him all day.
Following that, I gave my presentation. It was about my love of Israel, effective online advocacy, and the campaign for Gilad Shalit. The question-and-answer section was good fun, including banter about Aroma Ice Coffee, a question about my ‘Bamba Republic’ t-shirt, and one audience member taking me to task on my latest Jewish Chronicle column.
I got great feedback about my talk, which is always nice. Thanks to everyone who came. (I’m doing a similar speech at a very special venue next Sunday – details to follow.)
Then Gilad Shalit’s cousin Hemda and grandfather Zvi spoke about their experiences. As you might expect, it was an emotional session, but also an inspiring one. Did you know that Gilad’s great grandfather was killed in the Shoah, and that his uncle was killed in IDF service in the Golan? All of that tragedy in the family’s heritage, and now Gilad’s ongoing incarceration.
In the face of this, the family’s dignity, strength and determination are admirable. As I’ve written before, I support their call for the Israeli government to make a deal for Gilad. I explained my thinking here. I had a lovely chat with Hemda and Zvi after their talk . Hemda is fantastic fun. She told me: ‘Oy Va Goy – you’re an honorary Jew.’ Good luck to them.
There followed further discussions, an aliyah fair and the singing of Hatikvah, before the Aim Higher day came to an end. A few of us popped up the road for shawarma and the like. Jews have got to eat, so have honorary Jews. Over our food we discussed good old Simon Cowell: one-by-one the ingredients of a perfect day were being ticked.
Kol hakovod once again to the FZY for an inspiring day. The UK’s Zionist movement has a bright future with young people like these in our midst. Keep going!