Hearing about the terrible murder of Rabbi Yaakov Litman and his son Netanel was something that shook me. To then read about the family’s daughter Sara who postponed her wedding because she was sitting shiva… it was something too terrible to believe. And yet in this young woman’s bravery and courage, she announced to the world that she wanted the whole Jewish people with her to dance and to celebrate. It is a gesture that is the very definition of fortitude. It captures the essence or our people, and of our homeland.
With a gesture of true hospitality, Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider posted on a rabbinic list-serve offering home hospitality and a Shabbat invitation to anybody who wished to fly out to Israel and attend the wedding. It was the catalyst that set this trip into motion.
I knew then that I had to fly out to Israel. Without having many more details other than the fact that we had somewhere to sleep it felt right (yes it was spontaneous and impetuous – but isn’t that where we find the real stuff of life!
I am reminded that there is an unequal burden being shouldered by the people of Israel today. While our Canadian teens are busy leading the lives typical of 18 year olds, it’s our Israeli brothers and sisters who have to enlist in the IDF and defend our country.
Why go to this wedding? Because our role in the history of the Jewish people is to ensure that those who do live in our homeland truly know that we support them, that we appreciate all they do so that we too can have the ‘zchut’ (merit) of calling Israel ‘OUR’ homeland from so far away.
There are so many approaches in response to terror. Yet beyond mere defiance is the understanding that dancing with the bride and groom, bringing them joy and supporting people I have never met before is really connecting ourselves to the greater destiny of our nation. We are a people that sanctifies and celebrates life — we always will be.
This is why I will be dancing with Sara and Ariel. As we do so we bring the Montreal community together with us in spirit.
Nothing speaks more about our commitment and care and people-hood than to not just collectively grieve but to collectively celebrate. Instead of mourning, the Jewish people will dance. Instead of crying, the Jewish people will sing. Instead of fear, the Jewish people will have courage. And like Sara Litman, showing us and leading us with her example, we will go from distress to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption.