Israel and The Broken Heart Syndrome: A Prayer for Rosh Hashana

This past summer has been very painful for Am Yisrael. Death of our children, from the random kidnapping and brutal murder of our teenagers, to the deaths of our IDF fighting in a war that was neither wanted nor sought, but foisted upon us by terrorists forcing us to fight for the very existence of our people.


And the pain of our people in the South, under attack for more than ten years, never knowing when the next rocket will fire, a constant state of shell shock. A persistent anxiety, living just below the surface, just inside the heart, which lurches with each siren, each boom, each rocket landing.


We had to face media reports filled with blatant lies about Israel, often with a hint of disgust that not enough of us have died to satisfy the daily headline-if it bleeds it leads-because we refused to bleed enough for them. We are left constantly fighting this increasingly vitriolic anti-semitism because of the willful blindness of those who anointed themselves as the messengers.

The hate projected on to us, the constant barrage of lies and deceits, the need to write and sign petitions, the letters to editors, media representatives, Presidents of Universities that should never be necessary; the constant justifying of our right to exist as Jews and have our own land- a land that historically has been tended by the Jewish people, a land that we transformed from desert and swamp into a land of milk and honey-can erode the soul, and attack the heart. One can actually feel the heart break from the pain.

In medicine there is a term for a heart that is broken from such pain. It is called Broken Heart Syndrome. There are people amongst us, so overwhelmed by sorrow, from stress from an inability to repair, that without warning their heart seizes releasing the enzyme troponin into the blood stream. The sign of a heart that has been broken.

My heart has been broken by the summer of 2014. I have been crushed by the weight of the irrational hate of those who want only to see the end of us. My heart has weakened from the stress of a return of anti-semitism so virulent that it has become normalized.

We wake up to signs that say Hitler should have finished the job. Jews called Nazis. Accusations of Jewish people committing genocide and ethnic cleansing. Media reports that have no foundation in truth but rather appeal to the majority who truly do hate us. If it’s Jews, its news.

Protests get out of hand and those who stand for democracy, for Western culture, for Israel are attacked.Jews have become so fearful we hide the symbols of our heritage.

And then there are our own people, our Jewish people, who attack us. They are unable to stand tall under the weight of the hate for us, the minority of minorities amongst the cultures and creeds of the world, for they need to be swaddled in the blanket of liberal progressiveness and loved by the majority.

But, I think my heart finally broke because I could no longer deal with the too many amongst us who complain on Facebook or twitter or at the synagogue and then do nothing. Or stay silent and rely on others to do the fighting. Or too lazy to sign petitions or write a letter to the editor-when it takes a few minutes and a click of a mouse. There are too many who will not attend protests or demonstrations-too busy. With what?

There are those who say that these times are not like the 1930’s pre Shoah. It’s true. This is worse because no one can say “I did not know.” We all know because of the speed of social media that brings people and events from around the world into your living space- and in your face.

If we had done our job, there would no longer be an anti-semitic New York Times. There would no longer be anti-semitic professors at our institutions of higher learning-or lower. There would be Zero Tolerance of Jew-hatred everywhere as there is Zero Tolerance of gay bashing or discrimination against people of colour, bullying and sexual abuse.

We have watched Black Pride and Gay pride, now it is time for Zion Pride. It is our time to stand loud and proud and scream “Yalla,” a middle-eastern word that means “let’s go!” and “time to move!” It’s time for us to rebrand ourselves.

It is time to give our children a new story, a new memory to carry in their hearts. Let us work toward the restoration of the glory days of King David when we had no fear of being Jewish; when we carried our history proudly. We must remember and then do. We must once again show the world that we are not afraid. We are the Lions of Judah.

Rabbi Sacks wrote on Rosh Hashana:

“We proclaim God’s sovereignty as if the day is a coronation, the beginning of a new era.”

This Rosh Hashana is the time to start that new era. This year, let us wear our history proudly on our sleeves. Let us begin on Rosh Hashana by walking to synagogue draped with the flag of Israel or if driving, displayed on your car. Laugh and sing on the way to prayer on Rosh Hashana. And let that joy and pride reverberate throughout the year.

Each year we are given the gift of another opportunity to confess our sins-of commission, and more importantly omission. We can repent for those failures and do tshuva. We can do better. We must do better.

No more broken hearts.

Shana Tova Chaverim “Yalla!”

About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "
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