Will Katzrin be Jewish in Twenty Years’ Time?

I was recently asked a question in relation to the upcoming council election in the Katzrin capital of the Golan. ‘Will Katzrin be Jewish in twenty years from now?’ This question could be asked of any town in Israel today. The thrust of the question was directed towards the current Mayor, Dimi Apartzev, and his policies for Katzrin’s future.

My initial reaction was, how would anyone know what the next twenty years may bring? However, on further reflection on the question, I suggested one needs to look at the last ten years during Dimi Apartzev’s tenure as Mayor of Katzrin. Ten years of solid town development with future development outstripping the last, attracting Jewish families of all ages from the diaspora and within Israel itself. This is the future. Build the homes and the infrastructure that supports civil society, and the people will come.

The next twenty years will witness the biggest aliya in Israel’s history as Jews leave America, France, England and a dozen other countries to start a new life in the Jewish State. Places like Katzrin will attract their fair share of Jews with an attachment to the land of Israel, their identity being assured through their Jewishness. Education in what it means to be a proud Jew in possession of the Promised Land will keep the nation Jewish and free. Places like Katzrin are already showing signs of the convergence of Zionism and Judaism closing a circle of Jewish history. As Katzrin and a thousand places like it reaffirm the identity between Israel and Judaism, our survival as the capital of the Golan will be assured. We are not suggesting that all Israelis have to become orthodox, but we are committed to a Jewish State, and Jews must be proud that it is Jewish and they are Jewish.

In the case of Katzrin, the achievements of its people and the present council have been magnificent. In a short time, Mayor Dimi Apartzev has overseen an explosion in housing and industry not dreamt of ten years ago. Katzrin has absorbed thousands of Olim from America, the United Kingdom, the old Soviet Union, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, India, France, South Africa and Australia, speaking some seven languages. They have built schools, a university, and a model for other towns to emulate.

Like the nation of Israel, Katzrin has been forced to survive with a sword in one hand while managing to grow Katzrin with a view to the future, a very Jewish future.

What else can be done to attract Jews to Katzrin and provide it with continuing inspiration? Katzrin looks to become a centre of High Tec industries for northern Israel, a centre of the arts, medicine and of education. Much of this vision for Katzrin lies in the future. Many of these developments are complicated long-term endeavours. But they are within reach, can be done, and must be considered dedicated town targets.

Defining and pursuing a set of local goals of this sort are the direction and identity that Dimi Apartzev sees as Katzrin’s future, cementing its Jewish identity for the generations that are to come.

Will Katzrin be Jewish in twenty years’ time? If Dimi Apartzev has anything to do with it the answer is yes.

Yosef Yigal Drever

Yosef Yigal Drever and Sylvia Drever co-founded Achdut HaLev in 2006 to reach out to the Jewish community's around the world providing support in learning Torah and promoting the 'Return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.' Yosef Yigal made Aliya in 2014 while Sylvia his wife is an Israeli. In late 2014 Achdut HaLev concentrated all its resources towards Aliya and the rebuilding of Eretz Yisrael. Excluding none and embracing all. The commandment to settle the Land of Israel is equal in importance to all the Torah Commandments all together: (Sifri Deut 12:29)