As the sun was dawning on Martin Luther King Jr. day in the United States, the Netzer Veida delegates were engaged in a tour of Mount Herzl and the Herzl Museum in Jerusalem. During one of the presentations, we were asked for one name of some leader who we believed to be inspirational. As we went around and shared our responses, I, as well as another delegate from London, mentioned MLK.
Interestingly enough, the very next section of the discussion moved on to Herzl’s views on Israel, with the famous words “If you will it, it is no dream.” This phrase seemed perfect to parallel the emotions that I felt, as an American on a holiday not celebrated as widely internationally. Dreaming was a central part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, as the words of his “I have a dream,” speech still ring in our ears we work toward a future of equality and respect.
The goals of both King and Herzl are similar in more ways than simply literary diction. Both served as leaders for their communities, leaders who worked toward ideals of acceptance, love, and understanding for all men and women. And, unfortunately, neither was able to see their dreams finished, as both passed away before equality was reached or the founding of the State of Israel respectively.
With their voices inscribed upon the walls of museums as our guide, it is important that we too keep the dreaming alive. We can continue to realize the dreams of the leaders that came before us, as well as to create our own. For, as we know, the dreaming can establish a goal, as it did in the case of King. But when we start to do the work, and we begin to make those dreams a reality, they cease to be a dream, and instead become a brighter future. It is not, however, our job to finish the work, as we are told by another great leader, this time Rabbi Avikah, but it is also not acceptable for us to avoid it. It is by working to create dreams and subsequent realities that make the work all the more holy.
Austin Zoot, the NFTY North American Religious and Cultural Vice President, is spending the next week at the Netzer Veida. He will be posting updates on the NFTY blog frequently, and you can follow him in real time on twitter at @NFTYRCVP and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NFTYRCVP