From UJF’s Chief Executive Officer: Showing Up Matters

By Diane Sloyer

Finding inspiration in these troubled times can be a challenge. The war is raging on in Israel as antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric, including violent protests, are at an all-time high here in North America and throughout the world. I am a Jew who “does Jewish” every day. But since October 7, I have had an overwhelming sense of pride.

Yes, we are the chosen people! And while it is always easier to sit back and let someone else take action, October 7th has taught us that that is simply not a choice. We rally and protest. We make calls and write letters. We read and listen to podcasts. We attend conferences, lectures and online seminars. We give financial support for Israel. And many of us travel to Israel to show our solidarity in support of Israel’s right to defend herself, to volunteer in many capacities including working on farms in place of the farmers who are supporting their country, to support the economy and, as my friend and UJF board member Rhonda Schaffer Maron says, “to give our Israeli brethren a big hug.”

The impact of the COVID pandemic resulted in many Israeli travel companies closing and now the war with Hamas has further impacted this industry along with the economy of Israel.

Today, the majority of Israel’s current sparse tourism is primarily driven by solidarity missions. They are very important. Over my years directing Federations, I have taken many people to Israel on missions, not just in times of war. A mission has a long-lasting effect on participants and has been shown to be life changing. In fact, many of our recent UJF mission participants told me how impactful this experience has been. And they indicated that although a war was going on, they still felt very safe and secure being in Israel.

Israel is our Jewish homeland.

Many individuals travel to Israel through our synagogues and Federations, in times of crises or for happier times, for example, to celebrate a Bar/Bat mitzvah. After traveling to Israel twice since October 7, like you, I pray for peace. And we all know Israel needs us now more than ever. Donating money is needed, but so is showing up! Vacation time in the states is right around the corner. Let’s do our part in supporting the rebuilding of the Israeli economy by planning a trip to Israel. There is something for everyone history, museums, beaches with breathtaking sunsets, fabulous food, abundant kid friendly activities, and more!

Don’t wait for a special reason to travel to our homeland. Put Israel on your destination map for your next family trip.

I promise you will not regret it.

Diane Sloyer is Cheif Executive Officer of United Jewish Federation. This article appears in the April '24 issue of The New Jewish Voice. To receive The New Jewish Voice delivered free to your home, sign-up today at