Meir Charash
Ride Through

Ride Through Without Seder (Order)

The Hebrew word for suicide is l’hitabed – to lose oneself. Our dear son Ariel z”l ended his life by suicide some 7 years ago when he became lost in a whirlwind of spiraling thoughts that tormented his brain as he struggled with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), related depression, and anxiety. I mourn his loss every single day. The pain is at times pulverizing and paralyzing and then, somehow, it recedes a bit, like a powerful wave that hits the shore and then quietly retreats into the ocean.

On October 7th Hamas terrorists infiltrated 22 communities – all within the “Green Line” – and slaughtered 1,200 Israelis, dismembered and burnt people alive, raped and mutilated women, and kidnapped over 230 hostages.

Since that Black Sabbath, I feel as if the entire nation of Israel has entered my angst of trying to push back against a tsunami that keeps pounding at the shore.

Every single morning during the past seven years, I have woken up thinking for a fraction of a second that reality might be different, before realizing that it is not… Sadly, I sense that in the wake of October 7th, many, many more of us, and indeed we as a nation, will now wake up the same way –wishing that reality were different, before realizing that our lives have been forever changed.

Since October 7th, these crushing losses – the personal and the national, so different in magnitude and context, have resided side by side in my heart. גם וגם – October 7th and 7 years – a connection of calamity. But though my heart is deeply scarred, it is not broken. I will continue to “ride through” – my metaphor for life based on my love of cycling up and down the Jerusalem mountains despite the difficulties, scrapes and tears. I passionately believe that despite our collective trauma, Israel, too, will prevail.

But, with the Pesach seder approaching, how dare we utter the phrase “Hag Sameach” – Happy Holiday? Or, as Na’ama Levit Applebaum asked at a recent prayer service for the hostages at the Efrata School in Baka, Jerusalem: How can we speak of redemption from slavery when our fellow Jews are languishing in tunnels of torture and death, held hostage by Hamas terrorists?

This year, Applebaum’s question takes precedence over the four traditional questions. We must confront this question even as we sit at the Seder table, reciting the ancient Haggadah, recounting our story of redemption from slavery to freedom as a Jewish Nation in joy and appreciation. Jews do not cancel culture, tradition or history.

We confront it, we challenge it, we continue living – even if our most pressing and deeply painful questions remain unanswered.

We sit at our Seder Table even in the absence of seder (order). We ride through.

Hag Pesach Sameach

About the Author
Meir Charash, originally from Fair Lawn New Jersey, made Aliyah to Israel 44 years ago. In 1979, Meir acquired a B.S. in Business Management, majoring in organizational management, from Boston University and a MSW in 1984 in Group and Community Work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work (WSSW) at Yeshiva University. Meir worked as a community worker in Beit Shemesh and in Jerusalem, was the Director of the Israel Office of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for 19 years providing fiduciary oversight to donor funds and facilitating Israel – Diaspora relations. Meir’s expertise is in the area of community building, fundraising and organizational behavior. In addition to supervising Wurzweiler social students, Meir worked as Faculty Advisor and Coordinator of the Israel Block Program from 2010 to 2017. Meir is married with three children and resides in Armon HaNatziv, Jerusalem. He is a certified fitness trainer, Thai massage therapist and an avid mountain bike rider having participated for nine years in the Alyn Charity Bike Ride for the Children of the Alyn Rehabilitation Hospital and in two races, the “Epic,” and “Sovev Arava”. Meir served in the armored forces for a year and a half and 15 years in reserve duty.
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