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Hope is on the way

"Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future."- Eli Wiesel

 


The “Hope Accelerator: Calling for a new social venture for Israel in its most challenging times


Background: The unheard cry for Hope in Israeli society at this difficult time


Unfortunately, to describe the challenges Israelis are facing today seems almost unnecessary, since they are painfully, more and more obvious as the distance from October 7, 2023 increases. What is important to point out is that the perils that face us in Israel are compounded, i.e., there are multiple arenas of challenge and struggle going on simultaneously. The events of the war and the heart-wrenching hostage crisis are the center of our attention and worry, and rightfully so. I would submit, however, that unfortunately, what we are observing may only be the tip of the iceberg.


There are multiple dangers and processes that over time are eating away at the core values and resilience of Israeli society, including the essential ones that are least tangible but overwhelmingly threatening: lack of trust in leadership, polarization between sectors in society, feelings of being shunned and excluded in the international community, and the weaking of hope in the future.


People need to feel that there is something to wake up for in the morning, and the power of hope and responsibility is what gives it to them. There is much darkness and pessimism around us, but our actions and dedicated efforts to cultivate hope can create light.


What is the Hope Accelerator (“HA”)?

The Hope Accelerator (“HA”) is a unique and innovative concept that seeks to respond to the unheard cry for hope in Israeli society in what is arguably the most challenging period Israelis have faced in the history of the State of Israel. The program seeks to empower the individual while creating connection, community and change-over time- on a societal level, in “accelerating their hope”. The HA framework enables participants to come to learn and explore the power of hope, how to instill more if it their lives, work, environment and society at large; it will be a framework which will help launch and strengthen “hope-filled ventures”, towards the betterment of society.



The HA program includes three major stages: the “Hope Seminar”, support and development of “hope-filled projects” and the training of “Hope Facilitators” to expand the mission and reach of HA. A major goal of the program is to create a dynamic “Hope Community” that will further drive a movement towards “connecting to hope” throughout the country. Israel, which has gained a global reputation as a “start-up nation” in terms of technology, is now called by virtue of the perils and challenges it faces, to extend its prowess and entrepreneurial DNA to a less visible but an even more important goal: the proliferation of hope as a model not only in Israel, but globally, for humanity on the whole in the face of looming existential crises….


The use of the word “accelerator” has been selected in that it is often associated with the start-up, entrepreneurial eco-system, in which new ventures are “seeded”, cultivated, empowered, guided into life and growth. This is precisely what we intend to create: to “seed” hope, cultivate it, pass it on, scale it up, allow it to empower the individual and pervade society.


What is Hope?


Hope” is a profound and powerful human emotion (and a cognitive construct) characterized by anticipation, and belief in the possibility of positive outcomes, even in difficult or uncertain circumstances. Historically speaking, hope has been viewed as both a psychological strength and a liability. Philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas and Soren Kierkegaard, for example, viewed hope as a central virtue while others like Rene Descartes and Friedrich Nietzsche dismissed hope as an irrational and unproductive form of thinking. This same “mixed view” towards the concept of hope can be seen in the evolution of early Zionist ideology which equated hope with a sense of passivity and the lack of agency of Diaspora Jewry, and promoted the Zionist “activist ideology” as the solution for Jews as such. That said, the national anthem of Israel- “Tikvatenu”, means “Our Hope.”


Historical psychological perspectives on hope were not many, although the concept did appear to some extent in the works of Alfred Adler (who emphasized the significance of future goals and aspirations in shaping human behavior and psychological well-being.) Erik Erikson wrote of hope as did the leading humanistic psychologists of the 20th century, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers, who valued the power of hope in expanding our understanding of hope within the broader context of human development, self-actualization, and personal growth. The 1990’s marked the major development in the area with the introduction of the “Hope Theory” of Charles Snyder, the most influential psychological theory on hope, which lead to the development of the “Science of Hope”, and the proliferation of empirical research along with a gamut of formal interventions and strategies.


Religions have traditionally been associated with hope, across the board. Buddhism as a religion and way of thinking does not specifically use the word “hope” frequently but is centered around hope and the release from the cycle of “dukkha”, suffering, towards inner freedom and well-being. It teaches equanimity and the “eightfold path” of living in order to establish this outcome.

Judaism stresses the importance and centralitty of hope even amidst the suffering and oppression throughout it’s history.


In the words of the late Rabbi Jonathan Sachs, the former Chief Rabbi of the UK:“Hope is the belief that if we work hard enough together, we can make things better...No Jew, knowing what we know about history and our own past so often written in tears, can be an optimist. But no Jew, who is a true Jew, can ever give up hope. And that is why Judaism is for me the voice of hope in the conversation of humankind. And hope is what transforms the human situation.”


Mission and Vision


The HA mission is to create a framework in Israel that will be grown and spread in which individuals will be empowered by connecting to the power and meaning of hope in their lives. This HA framework is inherently focused on the individuals who will move to “pass it on” through interaction and communication in their circles, inviting others into the “spheres of hope” in their lives. The vision of HA is to create “communities of hope”, growing into a global model and a global movement revolving around “choosing hope” for the betterment of human society.


Theoretical, Practical Models and Inspirational Guides


The concept and program of HA is derived from several independent but related theoretical and practical models which also serve as inspirational guides for creation of the content and activity in the Hope Seminars: Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy, the tenets of “Grateful Hope”, the practicality of the “Science of Hope”, and the power and inspiration of amazingly resilient people, including, but not limited to, stories of Holocaust survivors who embodied the ultimate in “choosing life”.

















   


"Unzer Hoefunung", "Our Hope" in Yiddish, one of the first Yiddish-language newspapers in the DP Camps in Germany after the Holocaust.

My father, Mordechai(Max)Dunetz was the editor-in-chief.


Planning into the Future


The pilot program for the Hope Accelerator is scheduled for late August, 2024. Thereafter a series of multi-day seminars are being considered. Likewise the continuation of the involvement of seminar participants in community social projects of "passing it forward" is a major component of the program. Scaling-up plans and "community building are being explored.


A small staff of veteran facilitators are part of the innovative founding team, as are a list of "supportive advisors" who are close to the world of logotherapy, or other personal, spiritual and communal growth.


Stay tuned!


Inspiration of Hope


One of the leading Israeli authors, David Grossman, describes in his beautiful words the power of hope:


“Hope is a noun, but it contains a verb that propels it into the future, always to the future, always with forward motion. One could look at hope as a sort of anchor cast from a stifled, desperate existence towards a better, freer future. Towards a reality that does not yet exist, which is made up mostly of wishes, of imagination. When the anchor is cast, it holds on to the future, and human beings, and sometimes entire society, begin to pull themselves towards it.”






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