United As One

7 months ago Leighest 0

By Ariel Lotman

Every week across the globe, Jews ranging from different religious orientations and sects come together, as a family, in one building, to pray to G-d and thank Him for all of the blessings he provides us each day. We rejoice in the spirit of Shabbat, and enjoy our freedom as Jewish people to express our religious beliefs in public. A synagogue is a place for all of these wonderful and positive things. A synagogue is a place for standing together as one nation and proclaiming that we are here to stay. A synagogue is not a place of fear. A place of terror. A place of murder. A place of madness. A place of grieving tears. A place of unrest and affliction. A place…of separation.

The terrorist attack that occurred at Chabad of Poway on April 27th shook our community to its core. A normal Shabbat morning turned into a nightmare for the congregants, their families, and Jewish communities worldwide. What strikes me is that in every news report of the attack, Rabbi Goldstein, the Rabbi of Chabad of Poway, is seen saying Am Yisrael Chai!
As Rabbi Goldstein describes it, he never meant the words Am Yisrael Chai more than he did on that day after surviving. Now, as we move forward, we have his words ringing in our ears. Am Yisrael Chai!

Anti-semitism has become a very prominent force, not only in the United States, but around the world as well. It happens everywhere, everyday, and the main media just seems not to take notice. Swastikas are drawn on trains, cars, buildings, walls, every surface imaginable. “Kill all the Jews” has been written over and over again. Innocent Jewish people are attacked walking home from school, work, synagogue, the gym, the store. And perhaps, most frightening, tragedies and acts of terror, just like these, have been occurring at an alarmingly high rate. I know many people, including myself, have the same question directed towards the shooter: why? Why did he wake up that day and consciously think about the treacherous act he was going to commit later that day? What caused him to willingly get in his car with his AR-15 assault rifle in his back seat, mentally and physically prepared for what he was about to do?

Because we are Jewish. Because we believe in Hashem. Because we read from the Torah. Because we keep kosher. Because we keep Shabbat. Because we hang Mezuzahs up on our door. Because we wear Tefillin. Because we light Shabbat candles. This is the sole reason that John Earnest did what he did. Because we are Jewish.

What does this mean for us? What does this mean for the other Jews around the world? Should we be scared of who we are? Should we stop showing off our Jewish pride? Should we sever all ties with our religion, a religion of such rich history and beautiful culture? Should we be afraid of leaving our houses with a kippah on, or tzniut clothing on, or tzitzit on? ABSOLUTELY NOT! This is exactly what John Earnest wanted! That is what every terrorist wants. They aim to separate and strike fear in our hearts. They aim to terrorize. We must respond with the opposite.

We must respond with faith and strength. We must show that we are strong individuals, and even stronger as a nation. Let’s band together and do something to spark a light in the world. Do it for Lori Gilbert-Kaye, for the congregants of Chabad of Poway, for the Jewish nation across the globe.

If you don’t usually wear tzitzit, wear tzitzit for a day. If you don’t usually light Shabbat candles, light shabbat candles. If you don’t usually give tzedakah, give some tzedakah. Go to shul this Shabbat! Do something to show that not only are we not afraid, we are ready to revolt; but not with terror, rather with acts of kindness and acts of righteousness. In doing that, we will unite the Jewish nation and make sure that it is known that we are here to stay, and we are not afraid. We will not stand down. We are a strong nation. Am Yisrael Chai!