Tehillim and Togetherness: United as One

By: Emily Goldberg  |  October 19, 2023

By Emily Goldberg, Publication Manager and Layout Editor

Over the past week, there have been a large number of events hosted by both Yeshiva University and the Jewish community as a whole in support of Israel. Additionally, the number of messages publicizing such events, including fliers for rallies, protests, and unity events has been overwhelming. Individuals have also been connecting others with organizations that provide resources to soldiers and those affected by this tragedy. Moreover, there are multiple tehillim chats that are inspiringly active at all hours of the day. 

I was even added to one chat that sends videos of meaningful stories and the kind deeds that people have been doing for one another to spread simcha (joy) during this difficult time. Chaya Warren (SCW ’25) shared that this chat, named “Iron Sword Inspiring Stories,” is impactful because “it simply makes [her] happy every time [she] watch[es] another one of the videos. The messages sent to this chat remind[s her] that there is still a reason to smile despite the hard times that we are facing.” 

The sheer quantity of these messages exhibits the immense initiative that many are taking to help others during this difficult period. At the same time, more often than not, I find myself getting lost and overwhelmed in the constant flow of notifications on my phone each day. I find it hard to decide which of the many opportunities to focus my attention on and which events to attend. 

However, there was one flier for a specific event that I instantly knew I had a responsibility to attend the minute I received it. I knew this event would provide me with the opportunity to process my emotions with a community after having experienced so much grief on my own over the first two days that the news broke out about the tragedy in Israel. 

On Monday, October 9, and Tuesday, October 10, Stern College held a gathering in the beit midrash titled “Beren Campus Supporting Klal Yisrael: Tefilah and Chizuk.” Although these two gatherings ended up having a slightly smaller attendance than others, they were two very important nights for the Beren students in attendance. 

The event on October 9 included divrei chizuk (words of encouragement) by Rabbi Fine and Rabbi Schonbrun and on October 10 by Rebetzin Smadar Rosensweig. Students themselves shared heartfelt words of Torah that expressed their innermost emotions which resonated with and even comforted their friends. These students exhibited an immense amount of strength and courage as they opened up their hearts at a time of sorrow, many fighting back tears in order to share their personal experiences and sentiments with their peers. Many students were thankful that their classmates were willing to be so vulnerable, since their words reassured those in attendance that they were not alone in their anguish, but rather part of a larger community who would support one another during this difficult time. Each event also included a kumzitz in which students sang numerous songs together, uniting their voices as one in order to call out to Hashem on behalf of Am Yisrael

When asked why this event was meaningful for her, Eden Lippe (SCW ’25) shared that this event “was exactly what [she] needed. Having this moment of pure unity and shared experience was comforting in such an uncomfortable, painful time.” Many students simply needed a place to pour out their hearts and call out to Hashem within the context of the kehillah (community) rather than as individuals. 

When reflecting on this event, Eliana Diamond (SCW ’25) noted that “after coming back to campus, it felt important to see other people and experience our raw emotions together as a community. The student-led singing, interspersed with students sharing divrei chizuk or their own thoughts allowed [her] to see how the events in Israel affected others and view the situation as painful for all of Am Yisrael in addition to feeling it as a personal tragedy.”

Sitting in the beit midrash, the moments of silence and outpouring of tears spoke just as loudly as all of the words of Torah shared on those two nights. Indeed, the sorrow could be felt throughout the room as students listened to the words of Torah and then recited verses of tehillim. At the same time, simply being in the presence of others bound the room as a community. The collective sound of all the student’s voices as tehillim were recited and songs were sung created a sense of togetherness and kehillah. As the group of students in the beit midrash sang songs, I was scared to close my eyes, because I knew that once I did, the tears would start to flow, and they wouldn’t stop. But I closed my eyes anyway, because, as exhibited throughout the event, everyone was taking actions that were hard for them to do, but that were essential for the safeguarding of Klal Yisrael. So along with many others in the room, I closed my eyes and let myself cry out to Hashem, and I instantly knew that He was right there in that room with us. 

And at the end of the event, students could be seen hugging their peers and comforting one another after these extremely hard moments. It was evident throughout the room that although this event was extremely difficult to attend emotionally, everyone understood that it was exactly where they needed to be—together, united, and crying out to Hashem as one.