Lauren Isaacs, 24, director of Herut Canada, flew to Israel six weeks ago, as soon as the impending lockdown due to the coronavirus became apparent, saying it’s “better to be locked inside Israel than outside.”
By Atara Beck
A self-described “unapologetic Zionist,” Lauren Isaacs, the 24-year-old director of Herut Canada, has worked diligently to bring Zionist education and pride to Canadian Jews, especially among the younger generation.
Herut is an international Zionist movement dedicated to the ideals of pre-World War Two Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Isaacs has courageously defied the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic mobs, particularly on campus, whose actions included physical threats.
Last June, on vacation in Israel, she ascended the Temple Mount with her mother, where she unfurled her Herut Canada flag, which resembles an Israeli flag. Her mother snapped a photo, with the Dome of the Rock in the background, which went viral and, according to the pro-Hamas Palestinian al-Quds channel, left “a mark of disgrace on the forehead of 1.6 billion Muslims.”
In this interview, Isaacs discusses her decision to fly to Israel during this challenging period and her plans in the field of Zionist education.
Q: Why did you decide to come to Israel ahead of the lockdown, knowing you may not get back home any time soon?
A: The decision to come to Israel was extremely sudden, nerve-wracking – but exhilarating. I knew what I had to do, and I did it. I firmly believe that it is better to be locked inside Israel than outside. When I heard that borders were closing and flights were being cancelled, I could not stand the thought that my trip to Israel would be postponed. So I dropped everything and came as quickly as I could.
It hurts my heart to know that other people’s trips have been cancelled and that there are so many people and Jews locked out of the country right now. I am very blessed to be here in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). As a Jew, this is my home.
Q: How are you managing here on your own? What Zionist activities are you doing here?
A: It is wonderful to be in Israel! Of course I miss my friends and family back in Toronto, but there’s nothing better than being in the Holy Land.
Herut Canada is still running amazing programming (online) and putting out a lot of great resources and educational material. We are running webinars and interactive teaching programs online. It is a strange time, what with not being able to go out or see people, but thank God we have video chat and social media. I am staying connected, working with wonderful Israel activists at Herut, and putting “Zionist Lauren” videos online.
Q: What inspired you to become such a passionate Zionist?
The Land itself inspired my Zionism. When I was 20 years old I visited Israel for the first time. It was the most impactful, important, and emotional trip of my life. I truly felt at home in Israel, and the connection to my Jewish roots, our collective Jewish history and nation, and to the land itself was palpable.
When I returned to Toronto, I decided to work in the Israel education and advocacy field. My whole life revolves around Israel now, and I couldn’t be happier. It is our duty as Jews and Zionists to love, protect, and serve Israel in any way that we can. Israel is our one and only eternal homeland. We can never take that for granted.
Q: You look so happy. How do you keep your spirits so high while in isolation?
A: I’m in Jerusalem… what’s not to be happy about? I’m in the greatest place on earth, surrounded by my Jewish brothers and sisters, I’m safe and healthy (thank God), and there’s never been a better time to live as a Jew. Israel is free, unified, democratic, and beautiful. I know it is a tough time now because of the virus. I pray that everyone gets better soon.
The good news, as wise King Solomon said, is “this too shall pass.” It’s wonderful to be in Israel, no matter when! That’s true Zionism: Israel in the good times and the challenging times.
Q: What are some of your greatest successes in Israel advocacy?
A: Revitalizing Herut Canada has been a wonderful and successful initiative. There is a lot of apathy, I’ve found, in Jewish communities across Canada. Thus, in growing Herut and spreading unapologetic Zionism, we are seeing great hope for the future as more and more people turn to true Zionism.
Being able to stand on the Temple Mount and hold a Herut flag (similar to that of an Israeli flag) was also a proud moment for me. The fact that we are not free to pray at the holiest Jewish site is a travesty and it highlights how important unapologetic Zionism is. We must connect the younger generation of Jews to their Jewish and Zionist identities.
Q: How do you see the future for Diaspora communities, such as Toronto? Should they seriously consider Aliyah?
Diaspora communities vary, some more apathetic, others more connected and passionate about Israel. I think the first step in getting the younger generation to consider and desire Aliyah (immigration to Israel) is to connect them to Zionism in its most basic form. Many young Jews, sadly, don’t even know the real definition of Zionism or its import. It starts with education.
Aliyah should always be on the table, as a very real consideration for all Jews. Israel is our eternal, ancient, biblical, true homeland and we must never forget it.
Q: What are your plans for after the lockdown? Is Aliyah in the picture?
Once this lockdown is over, I plan to enjoy every inch of this country and all it has to offer. I think we’ve all sat inside enough to last us a lifetime, and so I plan to travel the country, visit the holy sites, connect with my friends and fellow Israelis, continue to teach about Zionism, and of course visit the beautiful beaches.
On a practical level, I plan to volunteer with Magen David Adom and give back to the country. I feel it is my duty to give to the country in any way that I can, and thank God I can. I also plan to run more Zionist programming and continue to teach about and stand up for Israel. I’m here to help the country, work for this Homeland, and grow as a Jew and a person.
As for Aliyah, it is always an option. Who knows what the future holds?
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Source: United with Israel