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Israel 2009 Day 2: From Dina to Nina (The People Israel in the Land of Israel)

October 21, 2009

While we often speak of the brilliance of a place called Israel, we must not forget that it’s luminescence is dependent on a People called Israel. Of course the land is filled with the People (and as I wrote yesterday, in many ways the land fills the People), but nonetheless there is an important distinction to be made. A land without a people is an opportunity that is unrealized, just as a people without a land is a promise unfulfilled. Today, in my second day in Israel, I was reminded that while the beaches and the hills may make Israel breathtaking, it is the people of Israel that truly take breathe life into this land. And today was no exception – from my first business meeting on the beach of Tel Aviv to my late night dinner on a street café in Jerusalem with a friend, today was a testament to how amazing are the People of Israel.

Case in point, my day’s chronology was a good example of the latitude of the spirit of the Jewish People. My first meeting was breakfast with an Israeli contact that I know from her time working in the US who has now returned home to Israel to reimagine her career in business and finance.  Dina is an example of the kind of indefatigable Israeli perspective- bright, intense, and thoughtful with an overarching sprit of ability and passion for life. Her business interest and mine coincide, but so do her personal passions – while we spoke interestingly of business, we also shared stories of our respective families.  While Dina could work anywhere in the works she wants to be in Tel Aviv, and while she can make it anywhere, it is easy to see she will make it here – and Israel will be the better for it. My second meeting was with a client and newly acquainted legal colleague, and while our discussion focused on our specific business, we also discussed how Israeli business continues to defy all barriers in achieving new levels of success. If necessity is the mother of invention Israeli businessmen and businesswomen are constantly faced with the opportunity and well the necessity to invent new strategies for business success. Like Dina, my lunch partners reminded me that while nothing in Israel is easy, nothing is impossible either, as long as the Israeli passion to achieve endures.

Later in the day I spent some time at the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, where the opening gala was both energizing and enriching. President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu both spoke, as did former Prime Minster Tony Blair in his capacity as representative of the Quartet. While each made interesting remarks, the person who continues to remind me of the essence of the People of Israel is President Peres. Having been part of the beginning of the State and not yet relenting in his vision of what the state of Israel can become, President Peres is nothing short of heroic, both in his love of the People Israel and his endurance as a global statesmen.  Tonight in his remarks, Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to President Peres as, among other things, an entrepreneur. And it is true – whether in the start-up of a nation or helping further fuel the entrepreneurial spirit that is helping create numerous Israeli start-ups in various technology sectors, President Peres reminds all of us that age need not be a barrier to energy and the possession of wisdom does not limit the aspiration of creativity.

Lastly, my day ended with a late night dinner with my friend Nina, who is also here for the Presidential Conference. Nina is a Jewish professional that lives/works in New York, and who is the Executive Director of Bikkurim, an organization that finds Jewish ideas and helps nurture them to organizational sustainability. While our professional lives are different and we live in different parts of the US, we still found time to be together in Israel. After a dinner with her, notwithstanding our various commonalities (similar aged children, similar interest in Jewish life), what struck me most was how many of the same values we shared. In a land of our People, we still found time to remind ourselves of the connections we have as a People, connections that grow in separate places but truly intertwined in this one place.

So to everyone from Dina to Nina and each person in-between (even you Mr. President), thank you for a day of reminding me that Israel is more than a Land and more than a People. It is both and it is beautiful.

Lila Tov from Jerusalem.

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One comment

  1. You are absolutely correct. One of the most amazing things about Israel is the people. The energy that surrounds you from the moment you land at Ben Gurion generates from everyone around you. Perhaps too intense at times, but this is due to the state being very young!!!!! Much like a kid, taking its first steps, we are doomed to make mistakes and hopefully learn to correct them with time…..



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