In the last few weeks, every time I kiss my granddaughter, I shed a few tears.
A tear of sorrow for the grandchildren who were murdered on October 7. And their parents and grandparents and friends and caregivers and good people who were honest workers or just wanted to celebrate music and love. For the babies and adults who were stolen and have yet to be returned as of this writing.
A tear of contempt for the babies who drank hatred in their mothers’ milk and grew up to act on that hatred.
A tear of anger for the world that has gone mad as headlines condemn Israel for everything we do, despite the hypocrisy and double standard of our critics.
A tear of disbelief that people cannot unequivocally condemn atrocious crimes, adding a caveat that gives even a shred of justification, instead of holding bullies accountable for their actions.
An incredulous tear at the gullibility of a generation who chooses to have social media replace their common sense and humanity.
A tear of hope that our unbearable losses will not be in vain as we pick ourselves up and march forward carrying each other along.
A tear of defiance as I stand a little taller and shake off my gloom. As I remind myself that tears are a luxury right now. There is work to do. And we are doing it.
There are people in the world who do not care about Jewish suffering, who can’t bear Jewish success. We have tried to appease them to little avail and to the detriment of our own security and pride.
When will we learn that others will only respect us when we respect ourselves?
There are a small but growing number of enlightened individuals who are swimming upstream against the stormy current of vitriol toward Jews, and this is heartening.
But largely the world can’t wait to jump on us, and I believe that when we are seemingly powerless to change “the other,” what remains is to look inward and inspect ourselves.
As Jews and the Jewish state, we have long shone bright among the nations. Our contributions are great and varied, often taken for granted or exploited. But as giving is part of our nature, we continue to shine and innovate and achieve.
As we fight this war, we continue to be beacons of morality and concern for even our most unworthy enemies. We demand this of ourselves, regardless of the world’s morally vacant mandates. With God’s help, we will prevail.
The lasting achievement of this war, however, must be the eternal light of warmth that we shine toward each other. Jew to Jew. To focus on and remember what unique, integral role each of us played on the battlefield or on the home front to bring victory home. Whether you perceive your contribution as major or minor, you must know that it was and is vital. Because you stepped out of your own space and made room for another – a stranger who is actually your brother. And you did it by choice, not obligation.
Judaism values life. Unity. And selflessness that, in turn, fills the self and the whole simultaneously.
The world takes its cues from us. The best way to combat antisemitism is to show that we are indifferent to world opinion, because what the world expects from us pales in comparison to what we demand of our own selves. We strive for Godliness- reflecting the One true God of Life, Peace, Compassion and Justice.
We are lit. With the eternal flame.