Looking at Zion

A Jewish Perspective on Israel-Diaspora relationship: 235 members of Jewish communities around the globe answered a questionnaire, which asked them to articulate their thoughts and feelings towards Israel

Susan Bernsen Ostrov and her family

Susan Bernsen Ostrov, Boutique Owner, Highland Park, Illinois, U.S

Susan Bernsen Ostrov (1963, born in Highland Park.) owner of Over the Top Boutique at Highland Park, Illinois. Ostrov participated in a year-long fellowship of  the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) she also held the position of Associate Director of Outreach and Education, Midwest Region in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and several other positions in the Jewish community, such as: Executive Director at American Jewish Congress – Midwest, Director of Development at Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and more.

In your opinion, what importance, if any, does the existence of a Jewish state have to you personally and to Jewish people in general?

“The existence of the Jewish state is of the utmost importance to me and in my opinion to the global Jewish community. Without the State of Israel, we would be at the mercy of the international community as we were during the Holocaust. Israel is the link that brings us altogether as one community, unites us as a people and gives us the security we need as a people.”

Do you feel committed in some way to defend the future existence of Israel?

“Absolutely I am committed to defend the existence of Israel.”

Do you affiliate yourself with a specific confessional division in Judaism? What is your view regarding the dominance of the Orthodox division in Israel religious establishment?

“I am a reform Jew by practice but completely committed to the religion. The extremists are a problem for our community, much as any religious or political extremist is a danger within any community.”

Do you feel morally responsible for Israel’s actions (such as its management of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)?


In your opinion, what is the main thing Israelis fail to understand about the reality of being Jewish outside of Israel?

“In the diaspora, even in a very safe and educated community, being a Jew always gives one a sense of being the outsider.”

In your opinion, does Israel have an obligation to defend and help Jewish communities in need?


Have you ever been to Israel? if you have, can you summarize your impression from the Israeli reality?

“I have been to Israel on several trips, studied and worked there when I was much younger. I loved all of my experiences.”

Can you tell us a bit about the Jewish community in your hometown? Is it organized? Are there community activities?

“I live in a very strong Jewish community in a suburb outside of Chicago.”


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