Elchanan Poupko

After This Week, Just a Hug 

Illustration: Jewish influencers and users of Instagram, the visual social networking app that is widely used for activism, say it became a challenging place during the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Screenshot via JTA)

History will forever remember this week. While the equation for Israel vs. Hamas may have not changed greatly, things have changed forever for Jews around the world. Jews in Israel will be thinking for long about their relationship with Israeli Arabs, Jews in the US will be thinking about safety, allies that did not show up, and antisemitism without borders, Jews in the UK will be thinking about living as a Jew out in the open, and many more Jews will have many more questions. Lots of in-depth and sophisticated thoughts to have this week. Yet, I would rather pause and just give a big hug to all of my fellow Jews. Now is not the time to ask how we got here, but it is time to ask our fellow Jews if they are okay. This week is the week to offer support, regroup, check-in, connect and be there for other Jews. 


Clearly, the shocking images of Jews pulled out of restaurants and beaten, asked at knifepoint if they are Jewish on the streets of Manhattan, firebombed in the streets, and synagogues burned all over Israel show the many assumptions we mistakenly made. The silence of those who we thought would be our allies, and sometimes the surprising support of those we least expected, highlight the many mistakes we had made. There is no question Jewish organizations and institutions need a radical and speedy restructuring to better prepare ourselves for the new realities Jews are facing in 2021. Yet, we cannot move forward without making sure we tend to our wounded, acknowledge one another, support our vulnerable, and let other Jews we are there for them. And so, it is here that I would like to send my love and support to all of my brothers and sisters and let you know that I am with you and here for you, now and always—

To the Holocaust survivors among us, seeing a surge of antisemitism reminding you of the horrors of the past—we stand with you and love you all. 

To the Jewish on campus being harassed for not vilifying Israel or for wearing a Star of David, as well as those not displaying their Judaism due to fear and intimidation—we stand with you and love you all.

To the Hassidic and Orthodox Jews, often first to be targeted because of your visibility as a Jew—we stand with you and love you all.

To the young Jews on social media being called horrible names for standing with Israel, and for those who refrain from doing so out of fear and bullying—we stand with you and love you all.

To Jews being targeted in synagogues, JCC’s, Hillel’s, and other Jewish spaces you courageously continuing to attend—we stand with you and love you all.

To Jews being targeted in public and private schools for who you are and what you believe—we stand with you and love you all.

To soldiers in the IDF who must put your lives on the line to defend the one and only Jewish state in the world—we stand with you and love you all.

To the mothers, fathers, and children who dashed to bomb shelters and safe rooms during all hours of the day and night, protecting yourselves from Hamas rockets—we stand with you and love you all.

To Jews facing the challenges of antisemitism in big cities—we stand with you and love you all.

To Jews facing the challenges of antisemitism in suburbia and smaller cities—we stand with you and love you all.

As we face an uphill battle going forward, let us find one another and let each other know we are there for them. Let us take time to see the Jews we did not see or know of before and be there for them. Let us build stronger networks of support, so no one feels alone and that we all know we have each other’s back. Let us tell the world that we are united, stronger together, and there for each other, now and always. 

About the Author
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a New England based eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network.
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