Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough
While rockets keep raining down on our beloved Israel, over 200 Jews are still held captive by Hamas and Israelis our age are enlisted and gearing up to go to war — what should be our response here in Yeshiva University?
Since the horrible massacre on Oct. 7, our hearts and minds have been solely with Israel.
We are all checking up on our friends and family there, keeping them in our thoughts and prayers, and trying to be there for them. At YU, we have focused on grieving together, on more communal prayers (Tehillim gatherings, and new opportunities to pray with a minyan on Beren), a day of fasting, learning initiatives and more.
But although we are with Israel with our thoughts and tefillot, there is so much more that we can and must do. This is a time for action — a time for each of us to step up and fight for the Jewish people. The fact that we are in a Jewish university cultivating Jewish leaders should prompt us even more — whether it’s to support the war efforts in Israel or to fight antisemitism in our backyard here in America, this is time to mobilize and activate our student body.
As one of the largest Modern Orthodox Zionist institutions in North America, we should be one of the most prominent outlets of support to Israel right now. Our country is at war, our people are fighting and we are not exempt. Over 350,000 individuals are currently risking their lives for the very survival of our nation. These are not ordinary circumstances — we must not be satisfied with sending only thoughts and prayers.
I write here now to ask us all to “rise up” proudly as YU students and mobilize to help.
While we might be far away and many of us do not have the resources to donate at significant levels, there are still many areas for activism.
There are many supplies needed in Israel and our people get a morale boost when they get support from abroad and know that we are with them. A group of YU students, including myself, have been working with Soldiers Save Lives, an organization that has direct knowledge of needs on the ground and a concrete way to get our supplies to IDF soldiers. We're currently running a supply drive, and every YU student can contribute to support our soldiers in a practical manner. This is the only official supply drive happening at YU. Imagine Rubin Hall filled with duffel bags and supplies packed by YU students, heartfelt letters being written and our communities standing together in this hands-on show of support.
Fighting the Media Narrative:
The battle that the Jewish people are facing right now has multiple fronts, and one of the most critical ones is the war for public opinion. We all know how quickly world media turns against Israel and how many lies can spread blood-libels around the globe. There have been multiple efforts to strengthen Israel’s narrative in the media. Imagine what a YU-student run center could look like that partners with these efforts and that allows us all to fight for Israel’s narratives.
Providing Support to Fellows Jewish Students across U.S. campuses:
Many Jewish students across the country right now are feeling besieged and attacked by various campus communities and environments that are at best indifferent to Jewish life, and at worst antisemitic and pro-Hamas. Jewish students at universities can use our support. Imagine offering to bring a large influx of YU students to another university — while obviously taking proper security measures — to support them at a pro-Israel rally or vigil. Imagine communicating with student leaders on other campuses and setting up direct lines of communications so that we can offer concrete support.
These are just some ideas — there is so much to do. Our people are fighting multiple battles and they need our time, our talents and our efforts.
I urge us all, the “leaders of tomorrow,” to stand up today. In addition to praying and studying Tora, we cannot ignore the additional ways for us to provide direct concrete support to Israel. Many of us have attended rallies, written letters, gotten on phone calls and devoted precious time and energy to this crucial cause. But there is still more we can do.
The gravity of Israel’s current situation should prompt us to ask ourselves: How are we going to use our talents, abilities and capacity to contribute to this fight?
As President Berman said, we are all being called to duty. It is time to act.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Caption: Bins full of supplies donated by students for IDF soldiers on Beren Campus
Photo Credit: Rivka Bennun