This post’s title is the name of a song by the band Play. I remember listening to this song as a teenager and trying to relate it to something. These days, I find it relevant to the Jews.
I wrote in my “Community” post back in June about how much the Jewish community (and a few non-Jews, too) helped me during and after my Birthright experience in 2012 and, of course, before and during my ten months in Netanya. It makes me smile when I think of the people who rallied behind me and helped me out. Despite the different ways we see ourselves as Jews, the Jewish community has treated me like one of the tribe. My mother isn’t Jewish but my father is. (Nota bene: Happy 58th birthday, dad. I love you.) My father’s sister, Laurie is Jewish, along with her and my father’s parents and my second, third and fourth cousins around the globe. They all practice Judaism in different ways, but we call ourselves Jews. Of course, we aren’t oblivious to the fact that many would not consider us Jewish because of halacha, but we have enough people who think we are. Many of the people in ITF-Netanya had only one Jewish parent, but we came to Israel to learn about Judaism in a place where the majority of people would “get” us. We could finally be in the majority for a change and get to be in the land that our ancestors never got the chance to go to. It’s certainly hard to fathom how amazing the Jewish community is, to use our minds and remember how we have been around for thousands of years and to think about Israel disappearing when Hamas is committed to destroying her as the world turns a blind eye. It’s certainly not the first time they have turned a blind eye, either.
I learned from being in Israel that not everything in the world can be controlled. I would watch my students learn and grow and while I would’ve done anything for them—be it offering a hug, a shoulder to cry on, stickers or candy—I know I couldn’t protect them from everything. They had their families. They had the Israelis in many forms. They had the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces who stood in front of them. They had a government who invested its money into self-defense.
I know myself and many other Jews are bothered by the idea of losing Israel. We’ve gathered questions about where else in the world can we be free from synagogues and businesses being burned and being able to wear a Star of David tee-shirt without fear. Our inquiries come with strong curiosity and delicate uneasiness. We have a myriad of worries in our heads not related to Operation Protective Edge, but in the forefront these days, we watch and read the news, do our best to inform people about the good that Israel does and give time and money to the people in Israel who let us be there freely. We have to fight against losing our home twice as hard as other groups when we only have one and others have four (Hindus), twenty (Christians) and over fifty (Muslims.)
I’ve been to various counter-Hamas protests and pro-Israel rallies in Boston since last month. A few weeks ago, I bumped into Joshua, the father of Samara and Tal, who are two of the children I used to babysit for regularly for nine months from 2012-2013. As we walked past the Massachusetts State House, I told him how baffled I was that his parents and a family friend both gave me money for Israel even though I was Jew-ish and had never met these people. He said they gave me money because I was a Jew going to Israel. No matter how secular I was and even though I didn’t keep kosher or do Shabbat, I was a Jew in their eyes. We understood the same trials and triumphs that come with being Jews. As I have continued to attend more events and rallies, it makes me proud to see more people showing up to these events. Jews of all denominations have been at these events and rallies. We are so different in how we are Jews but we are the same because we are Jews. I have also met non-Jews who support Israel because they support her right to exist. I may be an Agnostic, but there was something cosmic about seeing a double rainbow over the New England Holocaust Memorial at the pro-Israel rally I attended in Boston this past Thursday. Hamas and other uninformed nitwits who spew anti-Jewish garbage worldwide may be trying to cause another Holocaust, but looking up at the rainbow while this group of Jews and non-Jews alike screamed for Israel in front of it, I know we have a lot to do, just as many of the speakers there said.
To my Jews: We know that our work in protecting Israel and other Jews worldwide is more than just going after the terror tunnels and rockets. We need to utilize social media and talk about our experiences. We need to admit that Israel isn’t perfect—no country is—but it’s not this war-mongering, evil country that the uninformed masses think it is. We have to explain that we are strong and tell the current and next generation of Jews that we can find courage to press on as we tell the community that we love them. Always. No matter what.
Lastly, we must, must, must continue to band together and stand strong as one, no matter our differences. It’s us against the world and we are not going down without a fight.
!עם ישראל חי