Raquel Leah Nathan
A South African StandWithUs Emerson Fellow

Am Yisrael: The Unbreakable Bond of Resilience and Unity

A Zionist then, now and forever!
Showing support & love for my brothers and sisters in the IDF.

Resilience – encoded in our Jewish genetic makeup and flows within our very veins – the poetic essence of our being.

We are one beautiful nation. We are Am Yisrael, who have endured the unthinkable, which never seems to end. Where the world is a terrifying place filled with the very hatred and evil that calls for our eradication and destruction, we are the Jewish nation and our ancestral land will forever remain our refuge and home.

Our biblical dream that manifested into a tangible reality that is Israel, is only possible because of our brothers and sisters on the frontline, who tirelessly and selflessly defend and protect our magnificent country and its citizens. It is because of you, that we have a country.

When my Jewish brothers and sisters grieve, I too, mourn. When they cry, I sob. When they are hurt, I break. The odds have repetitively been against us throughout history. Yet, we remain – stronger and more united each time in the face of adversity – the true epitome of resilience of the Jewish nation.

Achim L’Chaim (Brothers For Life) – is an encompassing organisation comprised of injured soldiers who put their lives on the line so that we are able to call Israel our home. Whether it be a physical, emotional, or mental injury – no soldier is left behind.

My family and I had the absolute privilege of being able to host some of these brave and beautiful souls in our home in South Africa for 10 consecutive years. It was nothing short of an honour. Each year, we were able to express our utmost gratitude to them, individually and collectively. We bonded, laughed, shared, and cried together.

There was an overwhelming and contagious sense of unity and family. Of course! This is a no-brainer, because we are a family.

Each and every one of these heroes both received and offered such healing, hope and goodness into our lives and mostly importantly, in theirs – this is my ‘WHY’ – my reason for the identity that I hold close – being a passionate Zionist. This is my ‘why’ for defending my people and my country manifested through my position as a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow.

I believe I have found my purpose in this world, as a Jewish South African to shed light onto the truth, which is constantly being twisted and manipulated by the media.

This holds as a true and very real example of how despite being worlds apart physically, the unconditional support, love, and uplifting of one another, specifically in times of crisis and desperation, does not have a primary location. We, Am Yisrael, show up for one another time and time again. We are stronger and greater together and will continue to merge our most powerful resources being love, generosity and unity, no matter in what capacity. It is infectious, in the best possible way.

When you hurt, I hurt. When you mourn, I mourn – we all do. Whether it be in Israel, South Africa, or China for that matter, we are intertwined through our birthright, ancestors, and the physical manifestation of our dream – Israel, no matter where in the world you are.

Despite the terrors that Jews around the world and in Israel have been faced with historically and currently, our superpower is showing up for family, and putting aside our differences, no matter how divided in our political views we may be. That is the true definition of resilience.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Yours truly,

Raquel Leah Nathan –
Emerson Fellow at Stellenbosch University
Founded in 2007, the year-long StandWithUs Emerson Fellowship selects and trains students from all over the world to educate about Israel and fight antisemitism on their campuses and communities.

Written in loving memory of my late grandmother Brenda Nathan, who was both an Israeli and South African citizen. Her love for Israel was inspiring. May her memory live on forever.

About the Author
Raquel Leah Nathan is 22 years old from South Africa. She is a South African 2023-24 StandWithUs Emerson Fellow at Stellenbosch University.
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