By, Kayla Herskowitz
My Voice Will Be Heard For Zionism
My name is Kayla Herskowitz and I’m a senior at the RASG Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach, Florida. I was raised in a modern Orthodox cocoon including my neighborhood, my school, my synagogue, sleep-away camps, and summer programs. So far, I’ve been well insulated from the harsh realities of anti- Semitism, yet I know that next year when I start my college life, I will most likely come front and center with the ugly face of anti- Semitism. I have a voice, I am not afraid to use it, and I want my voice to make a difference in bridging the divide between Jewish students and student who hate us.
I am most probably attending college in NYC, and I want to join a student group at New York University called “Realize Israel” that I’ve heard much about from my brother, who participated in their events and speaks very highly of their cause. Through rallies, raves, comedy nights, and other events, “Realize Israel” educate students about the diversity, human rights, and democracy that make Israel such a vibrant and special place. They collaborate with many clubs to co-sponsor events. Realize Israel wants to get the message out that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that supports LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, innovation, free speech, and freedom of the press. Talk is not enough. It has been proven that personal connections help people become more receptive to your messages. That is why forging these collaborative efforts with other college clubs is important. Israel’s haters and detractors need to see that we are good people trying to do good things.
The sad reality is that anti- Semitism is a problem on many college campuses, some worse than others. The situation is so bad in the UC school system that some task forces and organizations dealing with anti- Semitism said Jewish students should enroll elsewhere until the situation can be remedied. The Anti- Defamation League has reported an 89% increase in 2017 of anti- Semitism on college campuses, including swastikas drawn, anti- Semitic imagery left under Student’s doors and other terrible acts.
Israel’s success is vital for the Jewish people. We need to ensure our homeland remains solid and strong so the Jewish people have a homeland. I’ve been to Israel five different times. I can wholeheartedly attest to the incredible strides and advances our Homeland is making. I visited a drip irrigation facility and became consumed by learning more about its success. I visited a software company that gives farmers anywhere in the world advice on when to plant, harvest, and how to choose crops. I visited a start-up that’s developing an artificial cornea. The list goes on and on. Israel is at the forefront of technology and agriculture, just to name a few areas in which Israel is making its mark.
My goal next year is to have my voice heard. I want to become a student ambassador for Realize Israel and help educate those who don’t know about the good in Israel and try to work with those who hate simply because that’s what they’ve been taught. The battle is uphill and tough, but I’m ready for the challenge. All Jewish students, from reformed and conservative to orthodox must work together to make a positive and lasting change in the mindset of those who don’t support Israel. The BDS Movement is trying to destroy Israel’s reputation, but I, for one, will try to stop it. Patience, strength, information, and a positive approach will help me make a dent in a precarious situation.