Rebecca Raush's Thoughts on Israel and Jewish Youth in America

Rebecca Raush's Thoughts on Israel and Her Experience as a Jewish Youth in America

By Sera Fortney, JCRC Marketing Associate

Sera: What are your thoughts on growing up in Jewish Day Schools and how did that influence your interest in the State of Israel and her people?

Rebecca: I first became involved in Israel education and advocacy really because I felt unequipped to be part of the conversation. Although my Jewish day school education prepared me well for life, it didn't teach me enough about the criticisms which may enter conversations regarding Judaism and Israel that I inevitably would have once I graduated. Learning different perspectives is of great importance when we are young as being exposed to varied narratives regarding Israel is vital.

Sera: What are your feelings about Israel and all peoples who call her their home?

Rebecca: Although Israel's right to exist should be without question, it is a flaw for some to think certain Israeli policies and actions should not be open to thoughtful criticism. Since Israel represents all Jewish people, the criticism she faces around the world is also the criticism that we all may encounter individually. The group I am involved with at Rutgers University, Peace is Possible, is so worthwhile because it helps us as students from many different backgrounds to engage in meaningful dialogue. Being exposed to multiple perspectives is of great importance.

Sera: What is your greatest challenge now as a young adult in the world today?

Rebecca: I would say the most challenging thing for me as I am interacting with others in the world today is recognizing that although I am open to conversations outside of my opinions, not all people are open to comments which challenge their own beliefs. Two things must be present before opposing ideas should be shared and received and those are the right time and the right person. Talking about Israel and the issues that surround her takes sensitivity just like any other topic. An opportunity to engage may present itself, but the person you’re talking to is not receptive. Likewise, you may meet a person who is so welcoming and open, but the timing is wrong, so the conversation never takes place. Also, talking face to face is much preferred over any other form of meeting as there you also find humanity and a learning opportunity as you speak that is absent when you can’t see someone. As an American Jew, my advocacy and perspective on Israel are defined by what I can do here, in the United States, to facilitate conversation between American Jews, Palestinians, and all other students.

Sera: What is your advice for young people today on growing up and being a proud Jewish person in our world today?

Rebecca: For me, having a firm foundation in Jewish Day School gave me a passion and interest in Israel and the knowledge of the Hebrew language which means I can approach the table and observe to gain a better understanding of both sides. My advice as a young Jewish adult to other young people my age and younger would be to not be afraid of your voice. Talking to others with varied perspectives outside of your own is rewarding and educational. However, exposing one's self too often to new perspectives can lead to burnout, and overloading one's time with this can be draining and detrimental to the goal of accepting others and yourself. It is important to always keep in mind that it is most meaningful to engage and discuss, rather than argue, which will bring both parties to a better resolve and acceptance of each other.