At Israel Conversations last Shabbat, our congregation’s president Fred Strober discussed Israel’s pioneering spirit, and referenced the book, Start- Up Nation, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer . His group explored whether Israel still has the pioneering spirit we associate with the days following the creation of the State. They talked about what comprises a pioneering spirit and concluded that it involves risk taking, entering unchartered territories or initiatives and did not penalize failure. They thought that these were the characteristics that allowed Israel, for example, to create a great 20th century agricultural economy. They then asked ourselves whether, given all the strife regarding the territories and the prevalence of a “me culture” generally, the pioneering spirit is still alive. They theorized that it must be for the Israeli economy to have taken off with so much technological achievement the past 20 or so years.
Several of the table participants had read “Start-Up Nation,” and they discussed in detail the chapters about the effect on young people caused by their experience in the IDF and then, what is becoming a culture of world travel to the most remote places on earth. They concluded that Israelis continue to have unique experiences that encourage creativity, risk taking and exploration and asked ourselves whether the next generation will continue to benefit from these experiences–or whether they are limited to this generation and will become a thing of the past as Israel becomes increasingly technological and productive.