Get Off Their Backs

by Sarit Catz


This past weekend, the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest and Central NJ (CRC) and the Legow Family Israel Program Center (IPC) sponsored a “Talk Israel” weekend retreat attended by about 60 college students from around New Jersey. The group spent the weekend learning about issues facing Israel and being trained in how to effectively advocate for Israel — especially on their college campuses where anti-Israel sentiment is increasingly promoted by individuals and groups hostile to the Jewish State.  Plus, they hung out and had fun.


Friday night, I was privileged to join this dynamic group for Shabbat dinner. Elliot Mathias, a CRC member and executive director of Hasbara Fellowships, gave the keynote speech. He talked about the threats Israel faces and closed by referencing the story of Purim. Elliot described how, when young Queen Esther agreed to plead the cause of the Jewish people with King Achashverosh, she in effect put the entire nation on her back. I could not help but feel proud of these 60 students who are themselves doing the same. 


As Iran, once ancient Persia, again threatens our Jewish nation, these young men and women are preparing themselves to protect our people, not in a war, but in a fight every bit as existential. They are on the front lines in the battle against the delegitimization of Israel. 


I also thought, as I looked around the room, how unfair it is for the rest of us to ride on their young shoulders. We may not be on campus often, but we too encounter delegitimization of Israel in the media, in political discourse, and in everyday interactions. We too must carry some of the weight. 


The first step is to educate ourselves. That’s the purpose of the Step Up for Israel mini-film course, being hosted at nearly 40 synagogues and organizations throughout our area.  And that’s the purpose of “Difficult Truths in a Dangerous Neighborhoodat 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 29, at Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston. 


This presentation featuring Yaakov Katz, analyst, author, and military correspondent from the Jerusalem Post, will inform us about the challenges Israel faces, including terrorism, a nuclearized Iran, instability in the region, Palestinian unilateralism, and others. Katz will speak and take questions. The program is free. Please register here.


You know how our kids often tell us to get off their backs? Maybe we should at least try.


Difficult Truths in a Dangerous Neighborhood” is co-sponsored by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), CRC, and Temple Beth Shalom.


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