I find Nechemia Meyers? article (?Drug Ring Shatters Dreams?, Jan. 6) personally thought provoking, as I, also, was a member of Habonim and share similar hopes and dreams. Habonim led to me to live 16 years in Israel where I fell in love with my Jewish heritage and my own people to a depth that is sometimes painful, particularly in light of events such as described in the article.
During my years in Israel, I watched Israel go through many changes. I always called them ?growing pains.? It seemed to me that, just as each person needs to push back space to make a place for ourselves in the world, Israel needed to do the same, and there has been a price to pay. When I first went to Israel in 1976, I encountered open doors, friendship, and a vibrant nation unified by a cohesive, mutual mission as Jewish people. Things were a little different when I left in 1995, yet not everything has changed.
Israel, to me, is a statement to the world of many things, one of which is that the Holocaust can never happen to us again. It is a home where Jewish people can always go that will never close its doors. We have lived and loved and died for this and will not give this up.
The kibbutz movement has been an integral participant in creating this promise and possibility for Jews worldwide. Israel is also a Jewish state and it must always remain so, no matter what pressures and influences seek to intervene. I see drugs, crime and other such influences as types of intervention.
Reading this article reminded me of two experiences I had in the early ?90s that cemented my perception that Israel is changing. One was when my car radiator broke down and I stopped at a gas station and asked to make a phone call. This was not an uncommon request. It was actually pretty acceptable ? kulanu chaverim.
What I met was a business owner reluctant to allow me to use the phone, and demanding payment in a very abrupt fashion. This was new for me, but not new ? stories of this kind were in the news all the time. It seemed that helping out was not such a given anymore. I wondered where the callousness was coming from and what was happening to the Israel I know and love so well. The reality of the change was cold.
The second was watching the painful changes overtaking Israeli youth with the advent of cable television. With cable TV entered MTV (no, I don?t like MTV), and it quickly became one of the most popular channels. I watched Israeli youth adopt clothing styles, manners and behaviors they were watching on MTV ? things they had not been exposed to before. They were soaking it in fast and it was changing them.
Related or unrelated, during this period and within one year, drug use became more prominent, drug parties became popular, and youth violence escalated. It was shocking how quickly the youth changed and extremely painful to watch.
I asked myself, ?What is happening to Israel? Where are we going??
I believe that with the pressure and need to be accepted by the world and included as a respected world citizen, Israel has had to incorporate many aspects of ?modern life?; some have been positive and some have been negative.
We cannot let one thing in without letting in the whole spectrum of experience. The dark comes with the light, the positive with the negative and it our responsibility, I believe, to sift and sort and choose. My experience has shown me that with a cohesive value system and reasoned ethics, stemming from a source that transcends us, it becomes easier to make some of these choices.
I don?t believe that the dream is lost. I do believe that if the children and grandchildren are to lead Israel in to the future, then it is our responsibility to ensure that they are educated with Jewish spiritual values that will give them a good reason to make choices that will keep Israel on the map and ?a light to the nations.?
In essence, if we want the dream to succeed, we need to give them the tools to make it happen. Some things change and then, some do not. Jewish values ? and all true values ? have proven to be timeless tools that work, even in a changing world, and they are keys that can keep the dream alive.