On Tuesday November 14th , on a chilly fall afternoon, I stood shoulder to shoulder with 300,000 of my brothers and sisters of all walks of life and ages in Washington DC in support of Israel, and against antisemitism. We listened together, we sang together, we cheered together, we cried together, and we prayed together. It was an incredibly powerful and unifying experience, one which I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.
But it was a moment right when I left that was even more powerful for me. As I turned to leave the area where the rally took place, I saw was a street sign pointing to where the Holocaust Memorial Museum was. I was overcome with emotion and had a great epiphany. I could almost see the Six Million in front of all of us, smiling broadly and saying to all of us “You have done us well today. You have honored our story and our memory.” We stood proudly on that day, together with the Six Million, unabashed, unapologetic, and unafraid. The Truth of this current battle has never felt so clear. And we were all collectively choosing to be on the Right Side of History. Jewish Pride for me runs deep, but never as deep as I felt it on that day.
Since the horrific events of October 7th, we have seen extraordinary feats by our People. We have tapped into reserves that we never thought were possible. Countless acts of unparalleled heroism and generosity. Hundreds of millions of dollars in charity poured into helping Israel in any way possible. Thousands of duffle bags filled with supplies and food from all over the world to go to Israel. Thousands flocking to Israel to show support. Countless numbers of prayer groups all over the world were created to help protect our precious soldiers. Posters put up everywhere and anywhere for the safe return of our hostages. Massive Tefillin and Tzitzit campaigns have begun with thousands in the IDF of all walks of life, wanting to don these sacred objects. Rallies were organized all over the world, with people taking off from work and traveling often long distances to make sure our voices are heard. The list continues but is too lengthy to finish in one short article.
In Song of Songs, it is written about the Jewish People “Like a rose among the thorns is my darling amongst all.” The Zohar, the primary work of Kabbalah, has a beautiful explanation of this. It writes that just as when you rub a rose, it emits a greater fragrance, so too when you “rub” the Jewish People, when you try to persecute them, they emit their greatest fragrance. This is the story of our People. Our darkest day soon became our finest hour.
Being Jewish is not just about sharing a cultural bond. Being Jewish means understanding that we all share a rich tapestry which goes back thousands of years, with a beautiful heritage connecting us all through one Torah, one Land, and of course one God. The beauty of our People is that we all have a collective memory; we never forget. We remember our past experiences as if they occurred today. And most importantly, we feel what our brothers and sisters are feeling, both their pain and joy, their tragedies and triumphs. And together, we all yearn for a brighter and better day.
Soon we will be experiencing the beautiful holiday of Chanukah. The entire story of Chanukah began with one man, Mattityahu, who, after seeing the religious persecution of his brothers and sisters, decided to take a stand. He stood up in the face of evil and refused to ever back down. His rallying cry of Mi LaHashem Elei, “Whoever is with God, is with me” is no different than our rallying cry against the current evil we are facing. And as we light the Chanukah candles, as the days continue to get darker and colder, our candles, our light only increases each day. “We only ascend in holiness, never descend” as the Talmud days.
Recently, I was privileged to share a song of mine, with a video focusing on the incredible unity the Jewish People have experienced since October 7th. The song was called “Litaken Olam” or “Fixing the World” and was actually written on the 8th night of Chanukah. The 8th night of Chanukah of course is when we experience the greatest amount of Light in a dark and cold world. The video went viral, with over 11,000 hits in just one week. Here is the link to the video. I hope and pray the message of the song and video continue to spread.
The famous author and screenwriter George RR Martin once famously said “Never forget who you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness.” The Jewish People have been reminded again who we are. And we have risen to the occasion. We have chosen to make this our strength. Our task in this world is to appreciate our own greatness. When our enemies have chosen Darkness, we have chosen Light. May we continue to take this unity we all now feel, may we continue to ascend in Holiness, and Light throughout the dark wintery months ahead, and beyond.