By: Zakkai Notkin  | 

From the YSU President’s Desk: Responding as Only We Can

I write this article as I have trouble sleeping. I spent Simchas Torah in a smaller community on the West Coast. The Jewish security volunteer at the synagogue was the first to inform me that there was a desperate situation in Israel. Later, the rabbi announced that despite the tragic situation, we would nonetheless attempt to observe the festival.

The next forty-eight hours were a blur. I couldn't get the gnawing thoughts out of the back of my mind. I didn't get a real chance to read the news until I was about to board my flight. Needless to say, I hardly slept.

The next day, I met with other student leaders and administrators to organize our response. I was desperate to think of a way we could make a difference.

I attended rallies, organized meetings and tried to get things done. Sleep-deprived, I overwhelmed myself. My empathy for my brothers across the world turned into a doom scrolling-fueled mental health issue. I know I am not the only one who experienced this. 

Notwithstanding that, I remain committed to helping our fellow Jews. One of the most important ideas to come out of these meetings was a community-wide gathering to show our support for Israel. This became the gathering held in Lamport Auditorium on Wednesday night. I was struck by how, at that event, we showed our unity on this issue, no matter any disagreements we might have. 

On a positive note, I have noticed that no matter who we are or what corner of Yeshiva University we find ourselves in, we have each responded in our own ways. Some went to rallies holding Israeli flags, while others fasted and prayed. In the first few days of the crisis, I thought the best thing would be to coordinate our response as one. That didn't happen. Instead, every group responded in the way it found most meaningful. While that at first seemed like a betrayal of unity, it instead became a source of inspiration to me. While we may not agree on every detail, we agree that everyone should respond in the way that is most meaningful to them. 

This is Yeshiva University. It is not a simple place. Our strength is that we do not have one unified way of looking at things. Instead, we value each perspective as part of a symphony of voices.

This is not to say that every instrument has been in harmony. In these difficult times, disagreements have arisen. Given the immense stress and uncertainty of the situation, it is easy to try to impose one's specific views onto others or  to question the validity of others' views within our community. That is not the right thing to do. The important thing is that we stand united with our brothers and sisters in Israel.

I truly hope that our entire community, no matter their background or community, can make a point of saying, each in our own way, that we stand together as Am Yisroel, both to directly help our brothers, and so that the stains of Sinas Chinam that once tore our nation apart can be healed.

Am Yisroel Chai


Photo Caption: A picture from the event in solidarity with Israel

Photo Credit: Rosenfeld Studios