By Yosef Bluth, Staff Writer
I spent this past Simchas Torah in Phoenix as part of Torah Tours, a program where YU sends a handful of students to different communities around the country. One of the most memorable moments for me happened on the night of Shemini Atzeres. After dinner, many of the neighborhood kids got together for a game of kickball. The interesting part of this was the wide range of kids represented. Both boys and girls, yeshiva kids and public school kids, ages 7 to 17. Everyone was playing together. I was astonished. To see all of these kids put aside their differences and just play together was honestly a bit inspiring. When I mentioned this to the Rebbetzin of the community her response was simple, “That’s part of what makes our community special. Everyone manages to get along despite their differences.”
Just a few short weeks ago, Israel was being rocked by nationwide protests. Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party was attempting to push through a judicial reform bill, which was more than a bit controversial. In response, protests were organized which occurred every Saturday for months. These protests even involved several members of the opposition parties, with important figures like Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz personally coming to the protests. These came after several years of continuous reelections, really highlighting how deep the divisions in Israeli society were. The keyword here being “were.”
Over this past week, Israel has faced the worst wave of terror attacks in its history. In response, the Israeli government and army have gone to war to prove that Jewish blood is not cheap. The IDF has mobilized 360,000 reservists, who represent around four percent of the entire population of Israel. However, this incredible effort has only been possible due to the incredible sense of unity that all of Israel, and all the Jews outside of Israel, have shown during this time. The protests, which were still ongoing, have been canceled for the foreseeable future. Parts of the Israeli opposition who ran on a platform of removing Netanyahu from power have joined together with him to form a unity government for the duration of the war. Jews all over the world have been coming together to rally in support of the State of Israel. The stories that have occurred of people bringing home-made meals to soldiers and of non-observant Jews kashering their kitchens to make food for soldiers have been truly inspiring.
If you had told me two weeks ago that all Israelis and all Jews worldwide would put aside their differences to support each other, I would have laughed. Our people manage to argue so much that one of the most common jokes shared is “two Jews, three opinions.” Throughout my entire lifetime, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a strong show of unity anywhere – let alone amongst the Jews. Now, you can hardly go online without seeing another incredible story, another post, another picture showing the unbelievable unity we have with each other right now. I sincerely hope that we will be able to use this unity to end the war with a victory, avenge our fallen brothers and sisters, and come out of this as a stronger and more unified nation. Am Yisrael Chai!