Relationship Status: Complicated

About The Author

Simone Schicker

Simone Schicker is a fourth-year rabbinic student at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Originally from Houston, she is currently serving as the student rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in Bryan, Texas. A former AIPAC Leffell Fellow, a member of The iCenter family, and a former Women of the Wall Intern, she is proud to call herself a Reform Zionist.

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My Relationship to Israel in Four Parts


I have a relationship with Israel, and it is complicated.


Part 1:

As a child growing up in an interfaith home, my earliest memory of a connection to Israel was of watching the 50th-anniversary celebration on PBS with my Mom. She grew up in South Africa during Apartheid and her first trip out of the country was to Israel. The idea that one could be anything but supportive of Israel was never a question. The only Jews I knew were big supporters of Hadassah, JNF, Young Judaea and the like.


Part 2:

I love Israel. I want Peace. I am a Zionist.

That statement was written on a bumper sticker I had on my first car in college. Sent from Young Judaea, where I was both a camper and counselor, I still miss it. It perfectly sums up my relationship with Israel in a catchy slogan without causing a fight with whomever I am speaking to.

During college, only two instances regarding the State of Israel came into play, but generally, I did not have to address it with my peers. The first was during programming for the multicultural affairs department’s Tunnel of Oppression when some students wanted to speak about Palestine instead of the Palestinians. I’ve always been supportive of the Two State Solution because I believe that there are two groups of people who both have a connection to the land but that there can be no dialogue when the existence of the State of Israel is dismissed. The second was during senior year exams when a friend turned to me and said “obviously you know I support Israel,” though I had not. Both experiences were outliers during my four years of college.


Part 3:

The year living in Jerusalem as an HUC-JIR student showed me yet another side of Israel. Regularly interacting with Israelis at the grocery store, post office, in the shuk, in the Settlements, at the Kotel, both with Women of the Wall and without, helped me realize that Israel is a country like any other. The day-to-day lives of Israelis echo our day-to-day lives, their serious and not-so-serious problems resemble ours, their happiness fluctuates just as ours does, and just like my fellow American citizens, the people of Israel are not all the same.


Part 4:

Today, as a Reform Jew, and especially as a fourth-year rabbinic student at HUC-JIR, I struggle with expressing my love of Israel to those around me. As a teacher, and now as a graduate of the iCenter’s Masters Concentration in Israel Education, I recognize how important it is to be able to clearly and succinctly explain my relationship to Israel even though I believe that a true understanding of my relationship to Israel cannot be expressed simply. My relationship to Israel has been built over time and through a variety of experiences and relationships. Ultimately that is what I try to teach my students. I teach them that I would like them to have a relationship with Israel but more than a relationship to the country, I want them to form relationships to Israelis of all kinds.


I have a relationship with Israel, and it is complicated. 


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