Go south young Jew to a land you’ve never seen

Nefesh B’Nefesh’s appeal to young American Jews to “go south” involves a cultural mashup, mixing the promise of an open frontier ready to be settled by adventuresome pioneers, along with the idea that the Negev desert is part of their ancestral homeland.

A would-be recruit says that as a Jew in America he’s “living in exile.”

What apparently hasn’t dawned on him or any others who swallow Nefesh B’Nefesh’s bait, is that this sense of exile might have more to do with being American than being Jewish.

The American fascination with roots springs precisely from the fact that nearly everyone comes from elsewhere, yet from exactly where is for so many very hard to trace. What distinguishes the Zionist hucksters is that they can easily trade with a ready-made answer to this question: where do I come from?

Alex Kane writes: On the 17th floor of a Manhattan conference building, young Jews from the New York area listened intently to two Israeli-Americans speak of the wonders of the Jewish state. They were going through the finer points of emigrating to Israel, talking up the varied benefits those who become citizens receive. Outside, it was a dreary and overcast Sunday. But the atmosphere inside was sunny: the banter light-hearted, the jokes from the speakers free-flowing, and all happy to be at the “Think Israel” conference (held on November 17th).

There was a serious task at hand, though: deciding how to choose a community in Israel where they would feel at home, which is part of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s core mission of encouraging aliyah to the Jewish state.

Ravit Greenberg, an Israeli citizen from upstate New York now working for Nefesh B’Nefesh, had just the right answer for them. They should move to the Negev in the south of Israel. It’s an area the government is encouraging Jews to move to with a variety of incentives. Greenberg was asked why the Negev was attractive by a boisterous and overeager pony-tailed man named Aaron.

“They want to encourage development,” Greenberg told him, talking about the Israeli government. And to help the Israeli government, Nefesh B’Nefesh seeks to enlist young North American Jews in the a key state project: populating the Negev with more Israeli Jews. [Continue reading…]

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