Tell a Tale of Israel

March 19, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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The Zemach family lives in Moshav Kadesh Barnea in the Negev…but for one year they are travelling the world meeting people and explaining the fabric of Israeli life.

Chami, Tamar, Oksana, Gali and Michal Zemach

Having already visited Greece, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, German and the USA, Chami Zemach and his family are heading to Australia and New Zealand next month.

They have shut down their jam making factory in the moshav for a year to carry out their Israeli Family Project  through which they hope to give the world a better understanding of Israel whose inhabitants embrace more than 40 cultures.

Oksana (42) Chami (40) Yulia (22) Gali (13) Tamar (11) Michal (4) have lived in Moshav Kadesh Barnea since 2002.

J-Wire asked the family some questions:

JW: Is it your dream to see the Negev’s population reach two million?

IF: This is a big dream. It can come true only if it will become a goal of Israel’s government.

JW: Is the plan to move to the Negev pitched at Israelis or the Diaspora and to let the world have a better understanding of Israeli life?

IF: We don’t think we have to tell Jewish people they should make Aliyah. People have to live wherever they want to. The goal of The Israeli Family Project is to make a better connection between people around the world and Israel.

We are trying to bring people closer the story of contemporary Israeli society. We see that the story touches people in many ways.

What people decide to do with it later on is their issue.

If everyone we  have met has moved one step further with their relationship with Israel – then this is a great achievement.

Because we meet with many different people from completely different backgrounds and communities, it will have many different meanings.

For some the one step will be to share what they heard with their friends, for others it will be to try and learn more of Israel.

For some it may mean a visit to Israel and maybe even making Aliyah.

We try to inspire. People who are inspired are motivated and we want people to be pro-Israel motivated.

JW: Are you working with Shlichim resident in the countries you are visiting?

IF:  We work with everyone who wants to work with us. Among our activities, we work with Shlichim of the Jewish Agency. We found out that those are mostly wonderful Israelis who bring a great Israeli spirit to their communities. When we work with them in their communities we are very much inspired by their activities and we hope it works both ways. We try to show them our way with the people and we learn a lot from them.

JW: Australia has a long history with the Negev especially through military action in World War I. Will this be part of the story when visiting us?

IFP:  Yes. Beer Sheva was conquered by the Australians troopers with General Allenby in 1917 and there are Australian soldiers buried in Beer Sheva’s soil.

JW: Australia is a massive country which works closely with Israel on water technology. Are you planning on spending any time in the desert area?

IFP:  This sounds amazing. We are not sure yet of how much time we will have in Australia. Hopefully we will have the time to do it.

JW:  How will you tell your story in Australia and what cities will you be visiting?

IFP:  We focus on sharing our story and being very opened to tell all we can. On the other hand we are a family that gathers in itself many angles of the Israeli Story, so it is very easy for us to talk about a large scale of issues. Where ever we go, we try to adjust our way of telling the story to the audience. It is different when it is kids or adults and it is different if  the audience is Jewish or Christian. Usually  questions take us to whatever people are most interested in.

JW: If you could send a message to Ben-Gurion, what would you tell him?

IFP:  Ben Gurion is one man with whom I would really love to be able to speak with. I think he would really love our village: Kadesh Barnea. I think he would believe  that by 2012 the goal of 2 million in the Negev will already be a reality.

JW: What have been the most memorable moment of the journey so far?

IFP:  We have produces more than 300 programs in 7 months and have met with many thousands of people. We held a program in a food shelter in NYC. We met with the mayor and the people of a French village where 5000 Jewish people were hidden during WWII. We visited a very small Jewish community in Hungary which used to be one of the biggest ones in the country where my grandmother was born. We talked with European Christian people who are making a stand against growing Anti-Semitism all over Europe. Gali played music with a Greek musician in a small village on the Greek beach.  We visited a public school in Chicago where kids knew almost nothing about Israel. We taught them how to write their names in Hebrew and we received photos of an exhibition they made with all the names.

JW: Have you faced any hostility?

IFP: No. We go to places where people invite us to hear what we have to say. People who don’t want to listen will not invite us.

Following their visit to Australia and New Zealand, the family will visit China, Mongolia and Russia and then travel to Northern Europe.

Visit the family’s web page  WWW.IL-FAMILY.COM



2 Responses to “Tell a Tale of Israel”
  1. Estie says:

    So …. Zemach family, I encourage you to visit Queensland, and be in touch with me if you would like to do so. I will try to link you in to talk to people, and help you enjoy our beautiful State perhaps.
    Regards. Estie
    And Halina: What a lovely email! Where do you live?? Welcome to the World Wide Web and J-Wire in particular.

  2. Halina says:

    I am so pleased to receive J-Wire! It is just like receiving a letter from a friend. I am not very experienced in using internet. Many years ago it was a part of the job. I just learned how to produce a catalogue card for to put a new book on the shelves at the library. This was a small well defined job, I did it sufficiently well and didn’t need to learn more sophisticated techniques. When I have left the library world, computers were everywheare. I had to learn how to catalogue people (was working as consultant for facilitating employment for the “New Australians” arriving often from the countries known only as a blot on the map).Have done this for some years. Then I turned into an aged person who should be retired. Only when my granchildren matured into adulthood, left Australia and pointed out to me that they are to busy to correspondence by post, and have no spare money for the costly phone bills. They told me that I have to learn to use the emails. The email caffes are easy to use, there is always someone who would help mi to use the gadget. I have now my own computer. This keeps me in contact with friends in many countries. I have now a new friend J-Wire. Presents the news which I am most interested in. Thank you for sending me news and even encouraging to comment. I shall learn that too.

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