My older son, Levi, made Aliya on Tuesday, following his sister Jenny who left four years ago to make Israel her home.
When asked how I feel about having children in Israel, I answer, “roots and wings,” abridging the Hodding Carter III quote that hangs in my office, “There are only two things we can give our children. One is roots; the other is wings.”
I usually add, “You can’t raise a Zionist and then be surprised when one makes Aliya.”
Creating a Zionist takes effort and doesn’t always work. Look no further than our college campuses. Our kids are greeted on campus with aggressive anti-Zionist propaganda and without having strong pro-Israel roots (and even sometimes when they do), many of our kids are lost. Hillel, Chabad, Birthright, and other pro-Israel college organizations do amazing work, but nothing is guaranteed, so the earlier we start planting roots, the better.
We lost count, but we think that Birthright was Levi’s fifth trip to Israel, after a family trip, an eighth-grade class trip, Federation’s Teen Mission, and an NCSY summer trip. (Note: Birthright is free for all participants and Federation offers scholarships for summer trips and subsidies for Teen Mission.)