Hatikvah: The Hope of The Jewish People
On the morning of Simchat Torah, a day from the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, Hamas terrorists surprised Israel by firing over 2,000 rockets from Gaza. Even though Israel is often threatened by missiles from our neighbors, this attack was different, and quickly became the country’s worst nightmare.
Hamas’ actions helped mask a massive infiltration of terrorists into Israel by land, air and sea. Later that morning, terrorist units invaded Israeli territories and shot at every civilian they passed. They burned and broke into homes, took hostages and massacred families. These coordinated surprise attacks were the beginning of a horrifying and devastating chapter in our history as a Jewish nation.
Sometimes, I feel like it’s difficult to communicate the pain a Jew feels when something happens in Israel to people who don’t experience it themselves. As a Jew born and raised in the diaspora, I always felt immense love for, commitment to and identification with Israel. This feeling transcends physical borders and rises above understanding, connecting us to a primordial source that unites us as a single people.
Israel is our home, even if we have not lived there.
Israel is our family, even if we do not know any names or even familiar faces.
Israel is somehow our past, present and future.
Israel is our heritage.
Our army is not just an army and our soldiers are not just veterans. They are those who risk their lives to keep us safe. Every Jew, whether they are in Israel or not, knows that they have a homeland where they can find security and freedom thanks to these soldiers. We are not just united in times of strength, but we are also united in times of suffering. When any Jew is in pain, every Jew around the world is in pain. We cry as a family. We act as a family. We are a family.
It is difficult to sleep, disconnect from the news or study. We are legitimately concerned for our family. But that concern should never become fear; fear is the objective of terror. Hamas seeks to paralyze us, break us and damage our faith, but that faith is and will be unbreakable because the people of Israel continue to live on. We live to tell the world “We are here.” We live to demand our right to exist, to fight for a better world and because God has decided that we must, despite the many empires, kings and governments that have sought our annihilation and found their own.
We have grown apart for various reasons, but we must remember that we are one people, and despite differences of opinion or religious identity, unity must be our main objective.
The Hebrew words “Geula” (redemption) and “Gola” (diaspora) are written the same way except for one letter — “Aleph.” The Aleph in gematria (an ancient Hebrew alphanumeric cipher) symbolizes the number 1, indicating that the difference between exile and redemption is whether or not we become united as one. Respecting our differences and focusing on the good in each person is more than just a nice idea, but a requirement from the Torah. “You must love your neighbor as yourself” commands us to accept and value all of our fellow Jews.
For the first time in a long time, the Israeli government has left political and religious differences by the wayside in order to come together and face struggle because they recognize that we are strongest when we are united.
As is written in Chapter 29 of Psalms:
ה’ עז לעמו יתן ה’ יברך את עמו בשלום
“God shall grant strength to His people; God shall bless His people with peace.”
Photo Caption: Jewish women praying at the Western Wall
Photo Credit: Yael Tangir