Our Guiding Principles

Guiding principles inform our entire program and help to develop a shared language among teens and educators. We encourage questioning and exploration, asking teens to think critically about their beliefs and modeling productive debate and disagreement.

Our Guiding Principles

1. A Zionist is any person who believes that Jews have a national home in the land of Israel

Zionism is a modern national liberation movement whose roots go far back to biblical times. Its purpose is to return the independence and sovereignty, which are the right of every nation, to the Jewish people.

2. Israel is a central part of Jewish identity.

Israel is the origin of the Jewish people. The word for Jew is Yehudi in Hebrew meaning one who comes from the tribe of Judah, located in the Judean Hills south of Jerusalem. As part of the Jewish people, each individual can trace their ancestral and/or ideological origins to Israel. Therefore, all Jews share a common destiny with the people and the land of Israel.

3. The modern state of Israel is a recognized sovereign nation fully capable of defending herself.

Israel doesn’t need people in the Diaspora to “stand up” for her. At the same time, Jewish people – no matter where they live – are connected by a shared history and share the same destiny. Therefore, it is each Jew’s responsibility to know their history and to take action whenever someone attacks the Jewish people or the State of Israel.

4. Zionism strives for historic justice and genuine peace between the Jewish people and all other indigenous peoples of the Middle East.

As Jews, we believe in the universal values of social and racial justice and want to see the restoration of independence and sovereignty to all peoples. We acknowledge that the Jewish and Arab nations are both indigenous to the Middle East, both descendants of Abraham. We see the conflict in the Middle East as something bigger than the disagreement between Jews and Arabs or democracy and terrorism. The historic complexity of the region does not discourage us from hoping for and seeking peace.

5. Knowledge, not talking points, lay the groundwork for productive conversation.

Talking points are for TV and media pundits. We are raising a new generation of proud leaders who know their history, appreciate their heritage, and who can engage in dialogue around complex issues. We do not rely on slogans, short cuts, and gimmicks. Rather, we trust teens to know the facts when it comes to the Middle East and encourage them to bring an open heart and mind to conversation with those who disagree with them.

6.  The most authentic way to know Israel and identify with it’s people is through personal experience.

A lifelong passion for Zionism is ignited with a trip to Israel. Reflecting on their journeys, teens draw powerful personal lessons about their place among the Jewish people, their responsibility for other Jews, and the role that Israel in their lives. These early experiences are formative in shaping an authentic, personal connection to the concepts that we explore in Club Z and enable teens to bring their whole selves to a conversation about Israel.

7. Belonging to the global Jewish people begins with belonging to a local community that mirrors broader Jewish values. Club Z is a community, built by teens and their families.

It is the primary Jewish community for many families and often serves as an entry point to broader Jewish engagement. Club Z fosters a sense of belonging to warm, inclusive Jewish family that celebrates holidays, debates tough issues, and supports each individual through triumphs and challenges. Teens experience feelings of pride, personal identification, and ultimately find the courage to take action because they know that they can always come home to their friends.