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In tragedy’s wake, stand up and be counted

To embattled Jews worldwide: Now is the time to demonstrate your attachment to your land and your heritage

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris this past week, the Jewish world has been reminded of the very basic understanding that the only natural place for a Jew is here in the Jewish state.  Even in the face of criticism, Israeli Government leaders bravely stood up and said that now is the time for mass aliya, certainly from France but also from other parts of the world.

In times like this, the truth should not be hidden from view of every caring Jew the world over. Israel is your home.

This message comes with the full knowledge that even here the security situation is not without many risks and we certainly don’t know what the future holds in store. But as Jews and Zionists we cannot ever be deterred from the belief that Jews should be living here in Israel and not in the Diaspora.

We know that when terrorists strike in Paris, New York, London or elsewhere this serves as an opportunity to call for aliya and certainly we join in that call. But terrorism should not be the logical reason WHY Jews should want to live in Israel. That justification comes from the ancient attachment to this land which should exist within the heart of each and every Jew regardless of where he or she might be found.

Yet, the unfortunate reality is that many if not most Jews living in the Diaspora will not be able to heed this call and they will remain behind all across the Diaspora. They will all have their reasons, whether they be financial, personal or emotional for why now is not the time and we need to respect that fact. But should that mean that they have any less of an obligation or attachment to the land simply because they can’t yet physically be here? Are they incapable of serving as partners in forming the future of the Jewish people?

Millions of Jews around the world want to do something to express their deep connection to the Jewish people and its historical mission even if they don’t make aliyah tomorrow. They feel the need to show solidarity, pain and care, but don’t know how.

These days, some people prefer to hide their Jewishness until the storm subsides. Even if they usually go to synagogues or Jewish community centers they will postpone it for another time. I ask them to do the opposite.

Now is the time for everyone to emphasize their connection to the Jewish people. Even those who do not regularly attend synagogue should visit it in order to express solidarity with the Jewish people throughout the generations and what they represent. Those who have a Jewish supermarket in their neighborhood should pop in to make a statement, “I’m here, I exist and I have no intention of going away.” Jews who have not made a point of sending their children to Jewish education for all kinds of reasons might re-think if they ought to strengthen Jewish education in various ways.

The main goal of the recent wave of terror is to intimidate us from who and what we are. Our answer is to deepen our faith in ourselves, who we are, and what we represent.

About the Author
Rabbi David Stav is the Chief Rabbi of the City of Shoham, Founder & Chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization.