Some of my earliest memories are of gatherings at my grandparents’ small apartment in Milwaukee where my relatives would crowd around the dining-room table and talk passionately about Israel. Many had been involved in labor Zionism in their youth, before they immigrated to the U.S. from Russia.
They envisioned a socialist paradise in Israel: a home where Jews would till the soil and live free of the bitter anti-Semitism they had experienced in Europe. They were fiercely proud of our relatives who had made aliyah (immigrated to Israel). They would talk about my great-aunt making wine on her kibbutz and the beautiful city of Haifa where many of my cousins lived. They would also talk about our Arab enemies and the great Israeli army that defended us against them.