How to Bring Home the Israel Experience: A Conversation with Osnat Fox
Each year, hundreds of Israeli emissaries leave their homes in Israel and move to cities throughout the world to serve local Jewish communities and help them engage with Israel. Osnat Fox is one such Israeli emissary, who relocated to Denver, Colorado with her family to work at JEWISHcolorado, the local Jewish Federation, for three years. Her main responsibility is “to bring some Israel to Colorado and some Colorado back to Israel.” Osnat is committed to showing her community that Israel is a diverse place, and that you don’t need to love every aspect of the country in order to love Israel. We spoke to Osnat about how to bring home the Israel experience, and make Israel a part of our children’s lives.
What advice would you give to women who recently returned from a MOMentum Trip and want to start connecting with Israel?
A meaningful immersive experience can be difficult to translate into daily life. In addition, as mothers, wives, and professionals, we’re often so busy that taking the first step in can feel scary or overwhelming. We need to remember that life is a journey and every step leads us closer. Your first step can be small, and should include doing something that feels comfortable for you, like attending an Israel event in your community, or meeting some of your local JWRP sisters for coffee and reminiscing about your experiences. The second thing I would recommend is that in taking the first step, be sure to do it with people you like. We growth through our relationships and when you tap into your passion for Israel alongside friends, the sky is the limit.
What are some local Israel organizations that may interest JWRP sisters?
There are so many Israel-related organizations with diverse focuses, so women can connect to Israel in any way that interests them. Personally, I love Jewish Federations because they support the entire community. AIPAC does amazing political advocacy work, and enables women to be part of a big Israel-loving community. The Anti-Defamation League provides education that helps young people combat the delegitimization of Israel on campus. Many synagogues also have their own Israel groups or host Israel-related speakers. Explore the many organizations and decide which appeals most to you.
How can JWRP sisters stay informed about current events in Israel?
The best way to really understand what’s happening in Israel is through your personal connections. Keep in touch with the Israelis that you met on your trip. They’ll give you an insider’s perspective on life in Israel. My favorite websites that offer Israeli news coverage in English are Israel 21c, The Times of Israel, and The Forward.
How can we infuse Israeli culture into our daily lives?
Choose a few Israeli traditions that you enjoyed, and take them home with you — whether that means cooking shakshuka, lighting the Shabbat candles, listening to Israeli music, or reading Israeli books in translation. Another wonderful thing to do is to invite Israeli emissaries to your home for a warm meal. As people living in a new place, far from their families, they will appreciate the hospitality, and will bring Israeli flavor to your home.
What are some ways for women to share their experiences in Israel with their children?
I love telling my children stories. I find that it’s a great way to enjoy quality time together, break down my experiences, and convey a message to them. You can also enroll your children in US-based Israeli youth movements or attend Israel-related events together. The most important thing is that you share Israel in a way that feels comfortable for you and your family. First, make Israel a part of your life and show how important it is to you. Then, hopefully, your kids will develop their own interest in Israel.
How can women best support Israel from back home?
There are so many ways to support Israel — and each one is meaningful. First, be public about your love for Israel. Write a Facebook post about Israel, or tell your friends, coworkers, and neighbors about your trip. It will be positive for the people in your life to hear that someone they know has traveled to and loves Israel. Also, get involved in an organization that supports an Israeli issue that you care about — pluralism, immigrants, or the needy, for example. Lastly, encourage local organizations to make Israel a part of their agenda. Share your Israel experiences with the lay leaders and community members and help them engage with Israel in meaningful ways.