“How do I take my passions and turn them into responsibilities? How do I use them to make the world a better place, leave it better than I found it, and create something positive?”
Once a month, ISRAEL21c provides its Digital Ambassadors with an online seminar featuring an expert in marketing, social media or Israel education.
Last week, we had a Zoom meeting about marketing and storytelling with Walt Disney animator/director Saul Blinkoff. He asked us: “How do I take my passions and turn them into responsibilities? How do I use them to make the world a better place, leave it better than I found it, and create something positive?”
Being actively involved in the Israel advocacy community, many of us have (at least partially) discovered our answers.
I was moved and inspired by Saul’s presentation. He shared concepts that I have been trying to embrace in my own life and facilitate in my everyday practice. These concepts focus on the ideas of responsibility and happiness.
‘Many times what we want and what we need are complete opposites, but in the long run the things we need to do are what will get us to where we need to be.’
While I genuinely have enjoyed educating others and building two platforms where they can learn more about Israel and the Middle East, this work hasn’t been without its challenges. Saul’s words reminded me why I keep doing what I do even when it has been more time consuming than I ever thought it could be, and my roles have become broader than just posting to social media.
When I was a freshman in a Jewish high school, an IDF veteran came to speak to us. He asked 120 students if they knew about the political scene in Israel and the Middle East in general, and only one student was able to answer. Only one! That was a defining moment for me.
I decided it was about time to educate myself about my homeland. That responsibility soon turned into a passion and a calling. I started an Israel blog as an outlet for all the information I had been learning.
That blog then became accompanied by a Facebook group. The group would be focused on providing an alternative perspective — one not presented by the mainstream media — on Israel and the Middle East.
‘It’s about doing things that are meaningful and purposeful. It’s about waking up with a fire inside of us and wanting to accomplish something even though it’s hard and challenging.’
Today, having had the opportunity to work with organizations such as AIPAC, CAMERA and ISRAEL21c, I have grown not only as a proud Jew and active participant in the pro-Israel community, but also as an educator, public speaker and a social-media influencer.
My Facebook group “Israel News, Education, and Calls to Action” now has over 1,200 members from 87 countries (Asia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere). For some group members, I am the first Jew they have ever spoken to. I am a source of information about Judaism and Israel, to those who do not have anywhere else to obtain such information or even a proper perspective on these topics.
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‘How can I use the fire in me to change the world?’
Israel makes a positive impact on our world and I want others to see that too. It’s vital that people realize how the world gains from Israel.
I have been able to use my love and passion for it to make at least a dent of change in the way it is presented to the world. Therefore I can say that today, I made an effort to change the world.
Devorah Shamilov is a graduate student at Rutgers University’s Family Nurse Practitioner-Doctor of Nursing Practice program. Check out how Devorah is making an impact on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Here’s her blog.