Jeffrey Levine
CFO | Seeking a just world I Author

The power of Song and Unity

Featured Video: Shalom Aleichem as composed by Ben Zion Shenker. z”l .Sung at a Unity Rally, and is the standard song in Jewish Homes around the world welcoming the Shabbat into our Homes.

We all have antennas which bring down messages to inspire us,. This is similar to our Facebook feeds, of which sometimes inspirational stories pops up your feed.

I want to share two stories illustrating the power of song and unity,

These stories came down come onto my feed on the fifth  anniversary of the tragic deaths of our three boys — Eyal Ifrach, Gil-ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, who had been kidnapped while making their way home from school. For 18 (chai) days, we hovered somewhere between despair and hope while we prayed for their safe return home. Tragically, that safe return would not come to be. Our boys joined the thousands before them who lost their lives as Jews and in the name of our ancient homeland. During that period of uncertainty, we all shared an intense sense of unity, unlike anything our people had experienced in recent years with the message of “Bring Back Our Boys” reaching people from so many different backgrounds and places. The feeling of togetherness, of belonging and caring for one another only increased in its fervour during the funerals and the shiva. And today we are incredibly inspired by the actions people have taken to continue this spirit in memory of our boys. May their memory continue to inspire Achdut (Unity)

The first story was shared by Uri Gobey,

A lot of people ask me what got me to come back to Judaism and to start the long walk away from the easy but empty secular life I led. Well usually people are influenced by a touching speech or inspirational person but in my case it was just one song (and then another and then another)…It was this specific version of the song that started it and all at the right time in my life for me to hear it. I attached the song in the first video and it contains pictures that I took. The ironic part is that the person who introduced the song to me was the least observant Jew you will meet but the special spark of a Jew is hard to get rid of no matter how hard we try so he still had it in him I guess.

It came to me at a time in my life when I was in search of more meaning to things and discovering the amazing things about Israel and Israelis a few years after making aliyah. At that point in time, I was heavily invested in blogging everything I saw which related to the politics of Israel, some of you may know me from back then. Gilad Shalit was in captivity at that time for a few years after being kidnapped by Hamas and the Free Gilad Shalit campaign was heading to its peak. At that time I was of two minds about whether he should be released so that 1000 cold blooded convicted terrorists could be released in a prisoner swap. One Jew’s life is worth more than all of those savages combined and releasing these savages after what they did to hundreds of babies, kids and their parents was just a sickening thought but Gilad is our brother, a Jew. Regardless of my opinion on it, I decided to join the march anyway to document it and be a part of one of the biggest campaigns this country has ever seen in order to have one soldier released or at least try to have him released.

The march itself had over 200,000 people in it who marched from the north where he is from, all the way to Jerusalem. I came into it very objective and focused on just documenting what I saw but after a few hours of taking pics, I started to notice that there was literally all types of Jews who took part in the march, Ashkenazim, Mizrachim, Ethiopians, Secular Jews, Religious Jews, Ultra-orthodox Jews, IDF soldiers, rich, poor, young, old, celebrities, regular folk, left wing, right wing, center wing, American Jews, French Jews, Brazilian Jews, Russian Jews, musicians, painters and even the handicapped. The mood was incredible, the sense of togetherness was indescribable and all for one guy they didn’t even know but they didn’t need to know him because in the hearts and minds of Israelis he could be their own relation or close friend that was kidnapped because we all go through the same things here as Jews in Eretz Yisrael. No single Jew is special, no single Jew is unique and no single Jew is immune to anti-Semitism. We are only special, unique and immune when we stand together as a Nation.

That day I realised how powerful the Jewish spirit truly is in all of us, it wasn’t just a nice thought or a cliche, I actually got to experience it along with 200,000 other people. This wasn’t some social protest for a minority group or the price of cheese, this was a massive gathering of Jews to stand for one Jew because that one Jew was our brother. That day I realised the truth in my heart no matter how I felt about it politically, that the politics didn’t matter, our Jewish brother mattered. Can you imagine if Jews all came together all the time and stayed together, what we could accomplish as the Jewish Nation? It would put our accomplishments in Hi-tech, science and medicine to shame, these are great accomplishments but they are minor compared to what we are capable of.

Now, back to the song. Well I heard this version of the song a few days before the march and it was playing in my head all day long and then to put the cherry on the top, the final song that was sung at the end of this huge march was Shalom Aleichem, sung by a Yemenite girl with an incredible voice and it just went right through me. That was the moment that I knew what I needed to be doing. What are you waiting for?

The second story was shared by Akiva Gersh .

Just another day in the Holy Land…

I stopped at a bakery on the way to the train on my way home from work. The woman at the register was covered in tattoos, wearing a tank top. Another female worker comes over and tells me they were talking about Rebbe Nachman and his teaching “There is no reason to despair ever!” I was a little shocked by this, but not too shocked because I have long ago become used to this kind of stuff happening in Israel. She then asked me if I agree with this teaching, to which I answered, “Totally. For sure”, eager to politely be on my way so as not to miss my train.

As I was about to leave she asked if I could sing for them a song that would, you know, help them to be joyous. I was caught off guard a little, but when I opened my mouth, right there in the middle of the bakery, a Shlomo niggun burst forth and the two women start to sing with me and dance! Then, hearing the sudden party, two other workers came out from the backroom and joined in. I started to bang on the counter and we all sang and danced, creating a mini Hasidic rave in the bakery.

When we finally stopped, we were all smiles, all together, all united. As I said goodbye and turned to leave, she said, “Wait!” and gave me a cold drink for free and said, “Thank you!”

Am. Yisrael. Chai.

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About the Author
Jeffrey is a CFO | Seeking a just world I Author -living in Jerusalem. He is a young grandfather who has five kids and seven grandchildren. Jeffrey is promoting a vision for a better and fairer world through and is the author of Upgrading ESG - How Business can thrive in the age of Sustainability
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