From the beginning of the modern Zionist movement, global Jewish philanthropy has been essential to the State of Israel’s existence. The Jewish National Fund’s blue pushke (charity box) became a standard ritual object in Diaspora Jewish homes, schools, and synagogues. Jewish communities around the world “twinned” with Israeli towns and cities, deepening philanthropic, communal, and personal relationships over decades. Jewish mega-donors have bestowed eight- and nine-figure gifts on Israel’s universities, museums, hospitals, and other vital civic institutions. Everywhere in Israel, there are plaques and signs acknowledging a gift from a Jewish Federation, family, or faraway community.

Israel’s prosperity over the past two decades has led some to question the practical need for such largesse. Last year, an essay in Sapir argued that Israel is no longer a hardship case and that it’s time for Diaspora Jewry to invest in its own future.

I disagreed with the piece, but I could not easily dismiss the argument. Yes, Diaspora Jewry always has pressing needs of its own. And yes, Israel’s economic and military strengths are undeniable. Israel has become a regional power, and its economy ranks among the world’s top 20 by per capita GDP. By most measures, Israel doesn’t need our help the way it once did.

But the events of and since October 7 have made clear that Israel cannot go it alone. Though the Israeli people have demonstrated extraordinary heroism and resilience, we can no longer take for granted that Israel by itself can repel the many threats arrayed against it. Its military efforts to subdue and defeat Hamas have come with enormous human and economic costs for Israel. Thousands of people from its northern communities have been evacuated for months because of Hezbollah rocket attacks, with no return imminent. And on the global stage, Israel’s enemies are emboldened, seeking to isolate, demonize, and prosecute Israel in every possible venue, and to intimidate Jews everywhere, including on college campuses.

This much is clear: Israel’s security and the safety of Jews in the Diaspora are intertwined. When Israel is on the defensive, so are we; when Israel is wounded, so are we. And vice versa: Never have more Israelis understood the connections between their fate and that of global Jewry; never have I heard more offers of support or more of a sense that our fates are shared.

Israel may be the “start-up nation,” a center of dynamic innovation across many industries. But now we see it has very little margin for error and a limited capacity to fight an extended, existential war.

The shocks are undeniable. It was stunning to discover the lack of fundamental investments in military readiness and equipment in the first days and weeks after the war began. Key sectors in society have been hampered as reservists were called to duty for months. Farms in the north and south have idled amid security threats and restrictions on foreign labor. The country’s economy contracted by roughly 20 percent in the first months of the war. Israel may not be fragile, but it is weaker and more vulnerable than we thought. Many of the most dramatic investments to support Israel have come from its own civil society — including immeasurable hours of volunteer labor, much of it fueled by philanthropic support from abroad.

Our new understanding of reality must lead to new approaches to meet our collective challenges. Diaspora Jewry and major donors, as well as Israeli government officials and nongovernment leaders, must act with new urgency and creativity. It’s time to reinvent the model of philanthropic partnership between Israel and the Diaspora in a way that is equal to the moment.

Let’s begin our work by acknowledging the obvious.

First, continued philanthropy is essential to Israel’s long-term existence. Disengagement is simply not practical or possible if we want to ensure Israel’s survival.

And second, the welfare and prosperity of Israel are directly linked to the well-being of global Jewry, and vice versa. Israel is the largest Jewish community in the world. It is the center of Jewish culture, Jewish learning, and Jewish life, not to mention a source of remarkable innovation in a broad range of industries. The Diaspora draws strength from Israel. Our destiny and Israel’s are closely linked.

As we move forward, we can model our philanthropic collaboration on Israel’s world-class missile-defense apparatus. This multilayered array, developed and funded in collaboration with the U.S. government, consists of the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow air-defense systems. Israel is responsible for their operational successes, but it could not have built each system on its own. And as it deploys them, Israel shares what it learns with the United States, reinforcing that this is a mutual effort that results in greater security for both nations.

We should think about philanthropy in a similar way: as a multilayered, mutually beneficial global philanthropic collaboration. Financial, intellectual, and human capital comes from philanthropists in the Diaspora and Israel alike to build up Israeli institutions and civil society. This enables Israel to be a convener of global Jewish life, generating culture and ideas and creating a thriving Jewish civilization that both serves as a model for Diaspora Jewry and exports its learnings and ideas to communities around the world.

In short, Israel doesn’t need donors — it needs investors and partners. This goes far beyond the financial. We should offer advice from our experience in other societies, including over matters that affect the long-term character of the nation, such as its democratic systems and its religious institutions and policies. We should have a voice on how Israel tells its own story to the world and share with Israel what we know about those global audiences. We are important stakeholders with a shared destiny. We share the core Zionist mission to not only return Jews to their ancestral land but also to revivify Jewish communities worldwide.

Some of the philanthropic responses to October 7 are already serving as examples of this type of partnership. In November, Birthright Israel Onward launched “Taking Action: Volunteer in Israel,” a global program through which nearly 5,000 volunteers ages 18 to 40 have traveled to Israel for a period of eight days to two weeks to volunteer in agriculture and food-rescue operations. The benefits to both parties are clear and profound: Israel gets much-needed volunteers, and participants are able to witness Israel’s reconstruction and defense — and to have a direct hand in it. These experiences will be seared into participants’ minds and hearts for the rest of their lives.

Such a model can be adapted to address systemic problems as well. Volunteer labor is a good stopgap to address the ongoing problem of agricultural labor shortages and idle farms in the western Negev, Israel’s breadbasket, but it’s not a long-term solution. A group of Israeli agricultural experts and Negev farmers called ReGrow Israel aims to solve the problem through a combination of investment in robotics and other labor-saving technologies, improved training of farmers, enhanced access to loans and grants, and amplification of best practices in the farming sector. These efforts would reduce dependence on foreign labor, improve production yields, and lead to greater profitability of the farms that feed Israel and provide valuable cash crops for trade.

Typically, such an industry-centered project would seek profit-minded investors. But ReGrow will need diverse types of funding, including loans, government grants, and philanthropic support, which can serve as “catalytic funding” to get new efforts off the ground. This web of financial backing removes some of the financial risk, creates a broader base of stakeholders and beneficiaries, and ties the project to the government’s own needs for more robust agricultural productivity. Such a model inspires hope that the project will succeed on all three outcomes, both for Israel and for farmers around the world who will benefit from the lessons learned.

Will this new philanthropic partnership model attract new and younger donors? I believe it will. After October 7, any American Jews who were previously hesitant about investing in Israel are more willing to take risks to support the country. They realize that Israel needs support and understand that the benefits will accrue far beyond Israel’s borders. By investing in Israel’s innovation ecosystem, philanthropists will help develop groundbreaking solutions to pressing global challenges in areas such as health care, renewable energy, cybersecurity, and environmental sustainability.

Through this kind of partnership and the relationships it will engender, Diaspora Jews will learn new things about Israel — and about themselves. In the days following October 7, a generation of young Israeli men and women raised in relative prosperity and security reacted with courage and heroism. More reservists responded after the attacks than had been called up; even those who had aged out of service or were ineligible for a variety of reasons wanted to fight for their homeland. Creative and tireless civilian volunteers also stepped up, ready and willing to meet the needs of the moment.

There is a lesson here for Diaspora Jews who feel besieged on their campuses and in their communities by antisemitic attacks and vitriol. The example set by Israelis should embolden us. Their willingness to sacrifice and fight when it matters most is an inspiration and a reminder of the stakes involved.

The late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks once wrote:

To be a Jew is to be part of the most remarkable story ever lived, by any people, covering more countries, more adverse circumstances, more triumph and tragedies than any other story. Every one of us has a chapter to write in that story and hand the book on. That is what it is to be a Jew.

The surge in antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment following October 7 has made it clearer than ever that the fates of Israel and global Jewry are intertwined. We all need to participate in what happens next. We all have a role to play: donating, volunteering, investing, learning Hebrew, becoming activists, and living proud and vibrant Jewish lives, wherever we live.

This is an extraordinary time in Jewish history, when Israel exists as a sovereign nation. Israel needs our support and partnership as much as it ever has — and we need Israel just as much.