Maintaining hope through unity
Following what has been the greatest tragedy to befall the Jewish people in my lifetime, I am struggling to find the requisite words of comfort to offer you.
We have all been consumed with the horror of the indiscriminate and wanton murder, violence and kidnapping of citizens of Israel. Our hearts have been broken by the stories of people like us – in some cases our friends and family – who were targeted with brutality and cruelty at a scale that feels unimaginable.
This has been so shattering on so many levels. The human stories of unbearable loss. The erosion in the sense of safety for Israeli society. The irreparable damage, both visible and invisible, to the Kibbutzim, Moshavim and townships that were invaded and are still subject to rocket fire. The collective trauma for our people in Israel is felt around the world.
The late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks shares the words of our namesake, King David, as what he believes to be the most moving sentences in all of religious literature. Psalm 23 reads “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me.” In a popular TED talk Rabbi Sacks applied a humanist framework to this passage. He uses it to explain the imperative of humanity supporting one another. He interprets the psalm to mean that “we can face any future without fear so long as we know we will not face it alone.”
And so I think that this must be the response to this ongoing tragedy.
The Israeli National anthem is a de facto anthem for the Jewish people worldwide. We are compelled to sing of Hatikvah, the hope. This feels like the only way forward now. We must strive to maintain hope and positivity through our unity as a Jewish people.
We can draw strength from devoting ourselves to helping others. Our Israeli siblings are perfect role models in this approach. As the trauma was still unfolding, Israelis queued for hours to donate blood. This is the description from The Times of Israel: “Jerusalemites of all stripes – secular teens toting guitars and yeshiva boys with prayer books in hand, groups of worried mothers, English speakers, Russian and French immigrants, Christian pilgrims – all waited for hours, quietly and patiently, in order to donate blood.”
Additionally, Israelis have taken evacuees into their homes, are cooking for strangers and are offering every support to the bereaved and those who are in mortal fear for their injured or kidnapped family members.
In Australia too, our community has unified in solidarity with Israel. There has been a proliferation of vigils, prayer services and rallies. Every member of our community seems to be finding ways to show the Israeli community that it is not alone.
Our school community has also mobilised in unity with Israel. Our students are drawing pictures and writing letters of support to pass onto Israelis. Our teachers are drafting lessons to help parents whose children cannot attend school. We are turning our attention towards fundraising for key causes that are offering assistance to Israelis at the time that they most need it.
The only conceivable path to help Israelis recover their faith in humanity and their tikvah is to envelope them with love and support.
Am Yisrael Chai!