Tuesday and Wednesday makred Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, the first day in the month of Cheshvan in the Jewish calendar. Morning prayers are occupied with an additional uplifting section of Hallel, filled with joyous songs praising G-d. It also marked another day in Israel filled with anxious, helpless, and scared civilians worried that if they want to go to their nearest market they might be killed in the streets because they’re Jewish. Normally Hallel is one of my favorite additions to prayer. But Rosh Chodesh was different this time. My happiness was restricted by my overbearing thoughts incessantly going towards Israel. How could I pray with joy during a time like this?
I woke up with a heavy feeling on my chest and a stomachache. While I was sleeping peacefully in my bed in Dallas, Texas, four more innocent civilians were murdered in the Jewish people’s home. I tried placing myself in their shoes. How would I feel if something like this happened in Dallas? I couldn’t even imagine the kind of panic I’d experience, yet across the ocean, my brothers and sisters in Israel live with the constant fear of an attack on their minds. For the first time in my life, I started thinking about my future, and what I imagined worried me. I imagined raising my own children with the same questions I have. How am I going to look into my children’s sorrowful, teary eyes, and try explaining to them why this is happening? How could I explain it to anyone when I don’t have an answer?
In the past 10 days there have been 200+ attacks including shootings, stabbings, rockets, bombs, and rock-throwings. Eight murdered, hundreds injured, and too many children orphaned. None of these victims instituted anything with their attacker. They were merely blameless civilians who were driving home from grandma’s house, walking to a friends house, or, probably the most heartbreaking, a 13-year-old boy riding his bike, just wanting some fresh air.
Though unfortunately my happiness was diminished, my optimism was not. Rosh Chodesh is not just a day filled with joy but also hope. Hope for the coming month to be filled with good grades, health, and everything else a teenager might want. But this month is different. This month, the focus of my optimism is Israel. My thoughts will now be for the safety and protection of Israel.
As a proud President of CTeen, a strong Jewish youth group, I’ve seen the power and spark teens truly possess. One spark can ignite another, and another, and another. When we work together, the possibilities are endless. This is my call to arms. My call to all Jews alike. Young, old, American, European, whoever you are, wherever you come from. Our brothers and sisters in Israel need us more than ever. We may not be in Israel, but that doesn’t mean that Israel should not occupy our minds, and our prayers. Take some time out of your day to realize the true potential of help you can provide. Take on a new mitzvah, be kinder to your fellow man, inform the world around you about the events in Israel. One small action can make a difference.
Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, once said, “Darkness, no matter how ominous and intimidating, is not a thing or force: it is merely the absence of light….The same is true of good and evil: evil is not a thing or force, but merely the absence or concealment of good. One need not ‘defeat’ the evil in the world; one need only bring to light its inherent goodness.” Let’s flood the world with light to end the darkness. Let’s hold up a candle with our positive actions for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Israel.
We can and will end the darkness when we work together to bring more light into the world.