Last night I had the honor of attending the Annual Im Tirtzu Conference. The subject of the evening was Zionist leadership. I was there in 2 capacities- as an activist for the organization and to act as a translator for one the American donors who has helped Im Tirtzu do its incredible work across the country. Several incredible speakers stood up and expressed the importance of Zionist leadership and the power that lies within the youth and the activists of the organization who are working to restore the Zionist ideology to the conversation within Israel. I translated simultaneously for the donor, the guest of honor, sometimes with difficulty as the speaker quoted this prophet or that Zionist thinker and I like to think I did at least a satisfactory job. I was doing alright and my initial fear at being charged with the task had begun to fade. That is, until Ronen Shoval, the founder of the Im Tirtzu Movement took the stage.
There is no translating Ronen Shoval. There is no way to do his words justice. He started his speech with a prayer for the kidnapped boys and then he asked a simple question. What is it that has helped the Jewish people survive? We are not a nation of great strength, although we witnessed the mightiest of nations rise and fall. We are a nation that has been dispersed across the globe and we have seen the greatest nations of the world rise up to destroy us. What is it, what is that motivating factor that has kept us alive as a growing and thriving nation?
The answer is pure and simple: Love.
There is an inherent, deep rooted love within the Jewish people. It is something deeply ingrained in our DNA, something that has kept us united in the times of our greatest despair. A deeply imbedded love has held us together in the face of despair.
This love, Ronen explained, this love is what makes us feel that the three missing boys are our own children. These boys are our sons, our brothers, our family. The likelihood is you have never met these boys or even a member of their family and yet, we have witnessed the greatest outpouring of support and strength from the Jewish nation across the globe in support of the families. The support, be it financial or emotional that we have witnessed in the campaign to bring back OUR boys, has come from the most distant countries across the world. Why? It is pure and simple: love.
The love is naturally ingrained within us because of a shared history and a shared covenant. We are a people that have yearned to return home for 2000 years and we have finally returned. We faced the destruction of the first and second temple. We faced exile. We faced torture. We faced the holocaust. We are survivors. We are a people that act as one. When one feels pain, we all feel pain. Our boys have been taken and we are doing everything we can to bring them back. The residents of Gush Etzion have opened their doors wide to our sons who are working tirelessly to search for the boys. Come in, take a break, take a shower, eat something. Please let me do my part to help in the search, to help remove just a drop of the pain we are feeling as a people.
United we stand in the search for our sons, with love and deep understanding that the fear and pain in the families of the boys is a national pain. That is something that the UN can never understand. That is something that the international media cannot even begin to comprehend.
As I listened to Ronen Shoval speak, I finally felt the sense of rage and fury that has been burning in the pit of my stomach for the last two weeks die down. A sense of comfort and home washed over me and I joined Ronen in finally allowing the tears to run down my face. As I returned to my computer last night to pick up my latest fight on Twitter I realized something: I could fight, I could continue to throw facts at the misinformed and ignorant people posting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tweets, but I would never be able to make them understand what it means to have an inherent and inexplicable love for someone I have never met. It is an emotion that runs deep. It is inherent in my blood and it is inherent in my people and it is something that will never change. United we stand against those wishing to harm us and united we will continue to stand forever and for always.
This morning I once again performed the mitzvah of separating challah as I do every week. This week was different. I joined the hundreds of women across the world who did it in the name of our three boys.
We pray together, we hope together, we stand together no matter what.
It is just what we do for love.
I pray that just as we support each other in pain, we will have the opportunity to celebrate and dance together upon the return of our boys.