BMYA Update: What does it mean to be a minority?

4 Mar
3-2-14

Exploring the Israeli Declaration of Independence with my fellow Young Ambassadors

For the fifth time in the two months since the 2014 Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors (BMYA) contingent was announced, we convened at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee on Sunday morning, March 2nd.  In addition to all eight of the group members being present, there was a guest who was visiting as an exchange student from France.  The session kicked off with an Israel Update, presented by one of our delegates, Sam, on Israeli strikes on Hezbollah-affiliated convoys traveling near the Syrian-Lebanese border.  The fourth and most recent of these strikes occurred on February 25th.

The main topic of the day was “Israeli Demographics.”  We learned some very interesting  and valuable lessons about the origins of the modern Israeli state, belonging, nationalism, and inclusiveness vs. exclusiveness.  The first task was to read a copy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence and highlight passages about nationalism in one color and inclusiveness in another color.  The group then examined the similarities and differences between these two concepts as they pertain to modern-day Israel.

Following this, the group learned that 30% of Israeli citizens do not subscribe to the Israeli National Anthem, “Hatikvah,” either because they are ultra-Orthodox Jews who may be offended that the song has no mention of G-d, or because they are not Jewish.  We then listened to an alternative version of “Hatikvah” that could appeal to broader audiences.  We discussed whether or not Israel should be more or less secular, and whether or not Jewish symbols should remain in place. Then, we were asked to think about a comparison between Jewish symbols in Israel and Christian symbols displayed in American schools or in the halls of Congress. We also examined our own national anthem, how it makes us feel and what its significance is to the American experience.

Lastly, the group discussed what it means to be a minority.  We talked about what it means to belong and what it means to fit in. We learned several facts and came to several realizations about the people of Israel and what it means to be an American Jew.

Adam C. is a member of the 2014 Bob Malkin Teen Leadership Program.

The Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors Teen Leadership Program is presented in partnership with the Shapiro Teen Engagement Program (STEP) of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. 

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