Alumni A New Sense of Purpose
As told by Teddy Fischer, YJ Alum
I started working with Member of Knesset, and former Judaean Alon Tal, because I was looking for a sense of purpose.
That’s not to say my life isn’t full – in fact, my life is packed full of meaning. I have an amazing wife and two precocious small children. I have a very meaningful and full-time job as an engineer helping bring Israel its first underground light rail. However, I felt that something was missing.
What was missing? When I made Aliyah more than 10 years ago, I served in the Air Force as a lone soldier. Every morning when I put on my uniform, I felt a sense of purpose and service. Even when doing menial tasks like guard duty, I felt that I was there for a greater purpose.
That sense of purpose was there when I was active in Young Judaea – as a high schooler, camper, teen leader, camp counselor and youth advisor. I was part of a group of like-minded people who were making a difference. One of the things I always loved about Young Judaea is that it is a movement and not just another youth group. A movement implies moving towards a goal. A movement is something dynamic and constantly changing. A movement has a purpose.
I first met Alon Tal in Israel a few years ago through a friend from Year Course before he became the first Young Judaean to serve in the Knesset. When the opportunity arose to work with him, I knew it was something I had to do.
In my time with Alon, I have taken on coordination, outreach, and constituent services for English speakers in Israel and around the world. This includes, progressive (Conservative, Reform) Jews, olim in Israel, environmentalists from around the world and anyone who cares about Israel-Diaspora relations.
We have started an English language newsletter, launched a website, and initiated a series of Zoom talks – all in the interest of being open and transparent and trying to create a dialogue with these groups we seek to represent and speak for in Israel.
Though I did not know Alon well prior to working with him, we instantly hit it off. Part of that, was our shared background as American olim in Israel with a similar past – of which Young Judaea is a big part. Though we are separated by a generation, and though we both ‘graduated’ from the movement a long time ago, many of both of our friends and colleagues to this day are people from Young Judaea. Maybe it’s because we kept in touch with our YJ friends, or maybe they were a network for both of us when we made Aliyah, or maybe because so many former Judaeans are leaders in Jewish and environmental movements in the US and in Israel, but barely a day goes by that Alon, or I aren’t in touch with a former Judaean.
For me, that purpose I was looking for is a feeling of selflessness. It is doing something for a greater good, purely for the sake of doing something you believe in (and not for a paycheck or even personal fulfillment or advancement).
Working with Alon Tal I have found that same sense of purpose that I felt as a Young Judaean, fighting together with another Judaean who has risen high, for causes I believe in: the environment, progressive Judaism, Zionism, improved Israel-Diaspora relations, and maybe even peace.