You can’t put Israeli Aryeh Green in one category. He’s many things.
He’s the former executive director of a nonprofit devoted to assisting journalists in Israel. He’s chief strategy officer for an Israeli company that works to bring renewable energy production to developing nations. He’s even just published a book on his long walk along the National Israel Trail, where he gathered up life lessons and faced down the pain of his divorce.
But it may be most relevant for his speech locally this month that he’s a staunch defender of Israel. In the early 1990s he ran the organization, Students for Israel. He has spoken on college campuses in support of the Jewish state hundreds of times.
He’ll speak on “Re-Awakening Zionism” on May 15, at 7 p.m. at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center. Anshe Sfard Kehillat Torah, a Glendale Orthodox congregation, is behind the event, which is also to honor synagogue members Dr. Harry and Elsie Kanin; Phyllis Lensky; Yale Tolwin and Dr. Simcha and Ariel Singer.
Green, 55, sees a trend on college campuses today where there is a denial of “Israel’s family.” He says it’s tied to a general trend against the importance of national identity, “this idea that we’re all supposed to be one global village,” he said. He also feels the denial of “Israel’s family” is bound up with a denial that Jews are a people.
“Judaism is unique,” Green said. “Sociologists and anthropologists recognize this, that we are a combination of a people which has a distinct culture and distinct language and a distinct geographical area where we were sovereign and became sovereign again. And we are also a religious construct.”
But there are those who reject this notion, either out of misunderstanding or with willfulness, Green said.
Green’s first book, “My Israel Trail: Finding Peace in the Promised Land,” published May 1 of this year.
He walked the full 600-mile National Israel Trail in 2014. It was 42 days of hiking in total – he didn’t hike on the Sabbath – and he was alone except for the two days he was with a companion. There were 12 days on the trail when he saw no other human being.
The trail starts near the Lebanese border, arcs to the west of the West Bank, descends through the Negev and then ends in Eilat at the southern tip of Israel. National Geographic named it one of the “World’s Best Hikes.”
“I so highly recommend the hike on the Israel Trail,” Green said. “It was a life-altering experience with me.”
He added, “Come visit Israel and hike even for one day. It’s something you will never regret, that’s for sure.”
Green is a former senior advisor to activist and political figure Natan Sharansky; chief strategy officer of EnergiyaGlobal; and director emeritus of Media Central. But the hike on the National Israel Trail reveals a different side of Green, something apart from all the experience and titles.
“I meditated on mountain tops and cried in dry creek beds; I wrote anguished journal entries and composed songs to lift my spirits,” he writes in promotional material for the book. “I looked back, and inward, and up to the night sky, and over the valley to the next mountain range, and down at the ants in the dirt, and back along the Trail to see how far I’d come.”
What I discovered on the Shvil – Hebrew for trail – was a sense of self, and a sense of personal and national history… and a perspective of sorts on the human condition.”
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How to go
What: “Re-Awakening Zionism,” with Aryeh Green, sponsored by Anshe Sfard Kehillat Torah.
When: Tuesday, May 15, at 7 p.m.
Where: Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Whitefish Bay.
Cost: $36. (Or VIP Reception tickets begin at $180.)
More information: 414-228-9296 or AsktShul.org.