Fifty-four stabbings, five shootings, five car rammings and daily news of seemingly endless strikes. Israel, you may feel like an island, but you are not alone.
The Israel that is scattered across the globe is bound in heart and soul with those who lay their heads to rest each night in the land of Abraham.
“Shema Yisrael, Hear O’ Israel,” a prayer that has been part of our liturgy for generations, is a heartfelt call to an Israel that is many things; different things — important things, to each of us.
For some, Israel is the land God promised to the Jewish people. Part of the covenant made with Abraham; the final stop after 40 years in the desert. It is a deep spiritual bond with the land, creating a connection with the people who came before us and those who will come after.
I understand that bond. I feel it when I study Torah. I feel it in our shared passion for art, freedom and peace. But I feel it most when I walk the same cobbled streets King David walked in Jerusalem; when the wind whips through my hair on the Mount of Olives, and when I press my cheek against the Western Wall in prayer.
For others, Israel is the people who live there. Friends, family, 7 million souls that make the land a country. Pioneers of yesterday and today who come from the far corners of the world — some with coal black skin, others with flaming red hair — are united in common values, the values of our forefathers. People who, despite war, terrorism, and relentless and disproportionate criticism, have made Israel one of the most productive, generous, and important countries in the world. Those of us in the Diaspora are astonished by their accomplishments and grateful for their sacrifice.
For all Jews everywhere, Israel is a homeland. A place of refuge today just as it was in the days of Pharaoh. We may all be aware of how different we are from one another. But when the sky darkens with hate, to the rest of the world, we look amazingly alike. We are a diverse tribe — leading different lives, but united in our fate. One God, one people. And as long as Israel exists, all Jews will have a place on this planet in which to grow up and grow old.
Israel is the land, the tribe; our past and our future. It is our tradition, and the way we honor the people we have loved and lost.
We join in prayer with you, Israel, because you have given us, and the world, so much. We stand by you, Israel, because you are a promise that our children and their children will always have a safe haven no matter how the winds blow. We raise our voices for you, Israel, with pride and love.
Hear, O’ Israel: you are not alone.