Unleashing the Power of Jewish Identity: Adam Milstein’s Vision for Advocating Israel’s Cause
Through five millennia of history, certain attributes of the Jewish people have never wavered: a proud cultural identity, an unshakable conviction in core values, and an unflagging determination in the face of profound obstacles. Another key element of Jewish history and traditions around the world is a strong connection to the state of Israel, the eternal homeland of the Jewish people. That connection, says Israeli American philanthropist Adam Milstein, is central to the Jewish identity.
Taken together, these attributes of Jewish history, traditions and culture have led to a vital sense of community and mutual support, as well as the establishment of Jewish communities that provide a network for social, cultural, and religious activities. At its best, Jewish culture provides a solid source of connection and belonging.
“Through ups and downs, through unbelievable triumph and unimaginable persecution, Jewish men and women in each generation have found the courage and strength to continue our traditions, protect our values and keep our faith,” Adam Milstein wrote on the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation website.
Milstein, who earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in 1983 and decided to stay in the United States, has made support for the state of Israel and maintaining robust Israeli American ties a central facet of his philanthropic endeavors and the work of the Milstein Family Foundation.
Embracing Jewish Identity: The Transformative Power
Jewish people can experience the transformative power of their cultural identity by building a sense of pride in the accomplishments of individual Jews and the state of Israel. Toward that end, the Milstein Family Foundation invests in programs that teach young people about Jewish “pride of ownership” and seek to foster a deep connection to Israel.
For example, as noted by the foundation, while the Jewish people make up 0.2% of the world’s population, 22% of Nobel Prize laureates are Jews.
Also, Jews constitute 12% of the members in the U.S. Senate, as well as a large percentage of leaders in arts, business, entertainment, and many other fields. The Jewish people contributed to the development of monotheism, Judeo-Christian values, economic theory, psychology, the theory of relativity, and recent inventions such as Google, Facebook, and autonomous driving tech company, Mobileye.
Adam Milstein believes that commitment to achievement is built in part on a sense of pride in Jewish culture, heritage, and traditions. On the foundation’s website, he wrote that the Jewish people have persevered because their predecessors felt pride in their history, heritage, land, values, and achievements.
“If you are proud of your Jewish identity and heritage, you will be willing to fight and defend it. We must empower our children with the perspective to go out and fight for their dreams and contribute solutions to the challenges facing Jews worldwide,” he wrote.
That pride, Adam Milstein says, is inexorably linked to Israel.
Israel’s Cause: Unwavering Support and Advocacy
In addition to his success in business and philanthropic efforts, Adam Milstein is well known as the co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Israeli-American Council. The national organization focuses on building an Israeli-American communities from coast to coast and maintaining and strengthening the ties between Israel and the U.S. IAC programs engage Israeli Americans through annual Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations, young adult groups and children’s educational communities.
Milstein’s promotion of sturdy ties between America and Israel stems from his own connection to the country. Born in Haifa, Milstein served in the Israel Defense Forces from 1971 to 1974. His time of service included the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
As with other Israeli Americans and Jewish people across the globe, he feels a strong connection to the state of Israel. Jewish identity is closely tied to the historical and cultural roots of Israel. For many Jewish people, supporting Israel involves a deeply personal and emotional connection. For them, Israel is a symbol of Jewish resilience, self-determination, and preservation of identity in the face of extreme adversity throughout history.
Recent attacks against Israel are cause for concern, Milstein wrote in The Jerusalem Post. He said the new wave of anti-Israeli sentiment is “the new antisemitism of our century,” adding that it “reinvented itself from the classical hatred of Jews, which is no longer publicly acceptable, to a now ‘tolerable’ form, the hatred of Israel.”
Promoting Israel’s Just Cause on a Global Scale
One of the goals for Adam Milstein is to build even heartier ties between Israeli Americans and the state of Israel. But he also wants to teach youngsters to advocate for Israel to diverse groups, doing their part to help others understand the significance of Israel and its place on Earth.
“There is nobody better than an Israeli American to be an advocate for the state of Israel,” Adam Milstein said in a recent interview. “We have the information; we have been there; we have fought in the army; we know it is a very dangerous neighborhood. We are Americans, and we think like Americans, and I think there is nobody that can be better spokespeople for Israel than people who are Americans of Israeli descent.”
He said that partially involves fostering what he called “Israeliness.” He explained that in the Israeli American community, “We don’t say you have to go to synagogue every day, pray, and put on tefillin. We say you can connect to Israel and to your Jewish heritage through what we call ‘Israeliness.’ Israeliness has to do with the language, the culture, the food, the dancing, the fact that I met you one time and the next time I say, “You’re in town? I have an empty room. Come stay with me.’”
He aspires to have Americans from Israeli descent play a significant role in advocating for more “Israeliness” in the U.S. and around the world.
“This is in our mission, and we made it clear our support for Israel is unwavering, unconditional. And I think that this will separate us from the others that are unsure if they need to criticize Israel or support Israel,” Adam Milstein said. “They don’t see what we see. This is the only Jewish country we have.”