By Aaron Shaykevich, Editor-in-Chief
I got a call from a family member last week with an emphatic message: “Do NOT wear your kippah in public.” I knew what they were talking about. With Hamas’ “day of Jihad,” the rise in antisemitism online, and the rise in hate-crimes against Jews, everyone is on high alert. This news is terrifying. And my family member, using the equation of “my relative’s safety > wearing a kippah,” insisted that I don’t wear one. Along with that, they told me to boycott Starbucks, since the worker’s union published a message supporting Palestine. Obviously, these two requests of theirs would not be easy to fulfill.
When I got the phone call, I looked around the room I was in. At that moment, I was in Lake Como Pizza with my wife, and it was packed with Jews. Nearly all the men were wearing kippahs. And that is when I decided I would not, in fact, be removing my kippah. Not out of a religious obligation, or any responsibility to God, but because as Jews we need to not be afraid to show who we are. We are Jewish! And this extends to all types of Jews, even those that do not wear a kippah. Don’t hide your Jewish identity. Don’t hide your Israeli accent, your Jewish name, or even that you love gefilte fish (ok, maybe it’s best if you don’t tell us about that).
The essence of my message is to encourage you to show your true colors: blue & white.
Being proud to be a Jew can be scary, especially in times like these, but it’s important to be true to yourself. So now, I ask the Yeshiva University community, can we all agree that it is important to be truthful and honest about what you believe in and who you are? And then, I ask the YU community to consider the implications of that.
When Israel was attacked, all Jews were victims: Orthodox, Reformed, Traditional, Hasidic, Conservative, all Jews. No matter your affiliation, every sensible Jew mourns the lives of their fellow.
So I ask: When Israel is no longer in war, will we still stand with our fellow Jews? When we live in times of peace, will we still stand with our fellow Jews? When Moshiach comes, will we still stand with our fellow Jews?
This time of pain has motivated Jewish unity, and the YU Observer is proud to have published many articles highlighting the power of community and coming together to make a difference. When someone donates to the Soldiers Save Lives drive, or participates in saying tehillim, do we care what type of Jew they are? Obviously not.
Jewish unity is necessary in moments of difficulty, but it must not end there. YU has previously fought against some of its own students who simply wanted a club that accepted them. Why is that the case? Why should people have to hide part of who they are, but then be told to make sure to share their Jewish identity? Why is it that Jewish pride is so important to all of YU, but not all forms of pride? At a minimum, loving your fellow Jew should supersede any biases or disagreements you have with them. No matter what type of Jew. No matter what you think of them. We should be one nation, united.
The true essence of my message is to encourage you to show your true colors: blue, white, and anything else that describes you. V’Ahavta Lereiacha Kamocha. Love your fellow as yourself. Am Israel Chai.
Photo Credit: Noam Ben Simon