Unexpectedly Feeling Safe
Global leadership. This combination of two words sounds so spectacular and intimidating. I am fortunate to be participating in the Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellowship, which prepares young Jewish leaders to become global leaders. The fellows are from three different areas of the world - Eastern Europe, North America, and of course, Israel. As part of the program, we participate in seminars in these locations, and get to learn about the different types of communities we come from, the struggles that our communities, and that we as leaders in these communities, have to face.
One of these struggles surfaced in our most recent seminar, which took place in Budapest. In one of the sessions, we closed the windows because a drunken man was walking outside and making enough noise to disturb our discussion. No one really noticed it at first, until our instructor mentioned what a big deal it was that the windows were closed. All at once, a discussion turned to the security of the Jews in Hungary, and my eyes were opened. One of our Hungarian fellows spoke about how the windows in the Jewish council building in Budapest are connected to an alarm. Sitting in a room with big glass windows, in a building that is known to be populated by Jews, makes her feel unsafe. Another Hungarian fellow volunteers as a guard to protect buildings of the Jewish community, very much like the guard that was murdered in Copenhagen, just a couple of months ago. The struggle is real.
As my eyes were opened to what was going on the outside, they'd also been opened to a revelation I had on the inside. I realized how safe I feel. Israelis are often thought of as a confident people, but until that moment, I've never thought about the confidence that I feel. How I am never afraid to walk down the street, or to sit in a room with big glass windows. For the first time of my life, I didn't take the security I constantly feel for granted. But in that moment, though I was saddened by the struggles of the other participants, I felt my Israeli pride in all its glory. I live in a strong country, with a strong army that keeps me safe, and I am not afraid to be a Jew. Sometimes you need to get a little bit away from home, just to realize that there's no place like it. I am Jewish and Israeli, and I'm proud of it.
And as for the intimidating global leadership part, I've learned that there's nothing too intimidating about it. The leadership is local; it's those little bridges we build along the way with those around us that eventually make it global.
Alon Weismann lives in Bet Hashmonay, Israel. He was a counselor and waterfront specialist at URJ Greene Family Camp last summer, and will return to camp again this summer. Alon is also a 2014-2015 Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellow.