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Am Yisrael Chai

The horrific images slowly coming out of Israel, where as of today more than 1,200 people including babies and elderly were brutally murdered, dozens still missing or abducted, and a nation in mourning over the terror wrought upon them by the hands of ruthless barbarians, are enough to make any human being’s stomach churn. Add to that the nature of the Jewish community and our deep-rooted connection to one another, and our hearts and souls continue to be torn and shattered by the onslaught of news updates.

There simply are no words that one can ever say to make this right. While pundits commonly relish in drawing parallels between something they disagree with and the Holocaust, this time the similarities are all too real. The world has not seen a loss of Jewish life of this magnitude in one day, where Jews were slaughtered just because they are Jews, since the end of the Holocaust nearly eighty years ago.

Cries of “Am Yisrael Chai” reverberate around the world, as Jews and their non-Jewish friends and neighbors proclaim solidarity with Israelis. These are not empty calls, but as history has proven, the Jewish nation indeed continues to live on and will persevere. The outpouring of love and support, coupled with the shock and anger we all feel, is testament to the eternal nature of the Jewish people.

When faced with tragedy of any scope, but especially something of this horrific proportion, we are reminded of the cries of our ancestors throughout history. Jewish liturgy contains many descriptions of Jews being the victims of vicious Jew-hatred, of being slaughtered like sheep and their blood being allowed to flow freely. But the prayers always conclude with the belief that despite it all, we will always still be here. The Jewish nation rebuilds after tragedy like no other people in the history of the universe and we have a 3,300 year history to show for it.

We don’t cower, we fight back and we rise up from the ashes. 3,300 years of Jewish survival is not something that occurs by chance; it is a clear demonstration of the Jewish soul and the G-dly spirit that is always with us. We don’t stoop to the level of our haters, we survive and thrive, leaving them all in our rearview mirror. It’s no coincidence that the Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, Persians, Spaniards, Nazis, and everyone else in between, are but a blip on the arc of history and relegated to ancient texts, while Am Yisrael Chai, the Jewish nation lives on.

We take our cues from the Torah, even as far back as the early chapters of Genesis, where those who experienced loss chose to rebuild rather than to insulate themselves. Although there were some, perhaps even justifiably at the time, who chose to hide and escape the turmoil around them, others picked themselves up and rebuilt. In fact, the Torah informs us of two people named “Chanoch” — one the son of Cain and the other a descendant of Seth. The stark distinction between the two is that Chanoch of Seth’s family was a recluse, while Cain, after seeing the despair wrought by his actions, chose to rebuild, going as far as naming an entire metropolis after his son. Chanoch the recluse was considered a religious person in his day, but he did nothing to help the world around him. His distant relative, Cain’s Chanoch, on the other hand, represented the need to rebuild after tragedy.

Interestingly, the name Chanoch is etymologically related to the word “chinuch,” education. What better way to ensure that the world experiences better times than through educating our children with the need to be morally upstanding members of society; to be committed to an ideology that celebrates light and life rather than darkness and death.

So today, as Jews around the world unite in pain and mourning, we simultaneously proclaim to the world — we may be shattered, but we are not broken! We will rebuild and we will grow even larger and be more effective than ever before. We are the future and we are here to stay, because Am Yisrael Chai!

With heartfelt prayers that we live to witness the ultimate rebuilding of Israel and the entire Jewish nation, with the coming Moshiach!

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