Ariella Cohen

Riding the Wave

High tide at Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park (courtesy)
High tide at Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park (courtesy)

Today is November 7th. It’s been one month since the now infamous October 7th. My, how the world has changed since then. We still wait for our hostages to return home safely. We still wait for all of the missing bodies to be found. We mourn all of the people we have lost during this traumatic month. And we pray for a brighter month ahead. 

This week also commemorates 85 years since Kristallnacht. So similar yet so different. The major similarity that I’d like to point out here is that on both of these days, the world turned against us very rapidly. We were caught off guard by a wave of antisemitism. We had to struggle to stay afloat. 

I was standing on a beach on the coast of Washington state just a few months ago during high tide. I knew it was high tide, but up until then, the waves were not that big. I was standing quite far from the water talking with some people, and suddenly a wave hit us at mid-thigh height. Out of nowhere. We all screamed from shock and ran in the other direction as fast as possible, trying not to fall. Almost just as quickly, the water receded. 

This is exactly how antisemitism acts. Hence the phrase “wave of antisemitism.” It often hits us from behind. When we’re least expecting it. Even if we technically know it’s pending. And then it’s over before we know it. Just another blip on the radar. 

Waves of antisemitism do not ebb and flow at such a fast rate though when you are actually experiencing them in real-time. We have to suffer through them. We have to face them head-on. We are living history right now. As we speak. Very significant history. Or rather, what will be significant history. But right now it’s real. It’s not history yet. It’s now current events. It’s fascinating to think about how future generations will learn about what is happening right now. Most of us have already lived through other major events which have become history, but this feels different. This is personal. This is an attack on our people. All over the world. 

The world will no longer be the same after October 7th, just as it has never been the same since Kristallnacht. There are still some people alive today who lived through Kristallnacht, but for most of us, we are currently living through the biggest event in Jewish history that we have ever experienced. 

So what are we going to do with an opportunity like this? As difficult as it is, it is in fact an opportunity. Because each and every one of us alive today has the chance to make history. Our actions right now can change the world. Literally. Just with our everyday activities.

Normally we just read about wars in history books, but now we are inside the history books of the future. Future generations will read about the crazy ways in which we all banded together. Making tzitzit, delivering food and equipment to chayalim all over the country, harvesting fields, hosting entire families that no longer have homes, flying across the world to join the fight. Praying. And praying some more. This list goes on and on and on. Volunteering countless hours of time in order to support our people. This is not something history has ever seen before. And it’s not going to forget it. 

People we know might even have their names memorialized forever. Our actions are building the future. In reality, that is always true. But I’ve never felt that as strongly as I do now.

All of this is happening as people around the world are trying to drown us under one massive wave. But we are pushing back and not letting them do so. The fact that we are being crushed on all sides is what will ultimately knock all of our enemies to their knees. All of this magnanimity is only able to happen because we have to push back so incredibly hard to prevent ourselves from despair. 

I had an experience yesterday that brought me to this realization. We had been having an issue with the intercom for the past couple of months. Somebody came by a few weeks ago and could not figure out what was going on. He spent hours going through all the wires in the building, but he ultimately left saying that he couldn’t fix the problem because there were too many unlabeled wires making it impossible to figure out the source of the issue. Yesterday, another guy named Lior showed up. He did some different testing, and after two hours the intercom was fixed. When the problem was finally solved, the building manager said it was because he pushed Lior to keep trying until he found the solution. Lior was in despair and ready to give up multiple times. 

To quote the building manager at the end of the whole ordeal, “אין יאוש בעולם.” There is no despair in the world. How apropos for the time we are living in. I don’t think he realized how profound this is. The only way we can ride these waves that are trying to crush us is if we do not despair. If we let them drown us, we will drown. So the harder they try, the more we need to push back.   

Right now it seems that the majority of people who have any qualms about Jews are jumping on board to attempt to destroy us physically and emotionally. Trying to drown us 85 years ago, Kristallnacht was the beginning of a wave of antisemitism. A very extreme one. Think very high tides that try to knock us off our feet. And now we are amidst another one which began exactly one month ago. Perhaps the most physically and emotionally demeaning one we have ever experienced. And once again, we as a people will not be destroyed. Physically or emotionally. 

Because we are fighting back harder than we ever have before. On the front lines, on the home front, and everywhere in between. So let’s keep fighting. In whatever way we can from wherever we are. Let’s make history in the best way possible as we move forward toward experiencing the most powerful victory that our nation and the world has ever seen. But we can only get there if we don’t despair. So let’s keep riding the wave. 

About the Author
Ariella Cohen grew up in Far Rockaway, NY and made Aliyah from Bala Cynwyd, PA in August 2023. She is an engineer and amateur musician with lots of other hobbies on the side.
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