As the war in Israel continues to be waged, our hearts and prayers are with all who are on the frontlines to return our brothers and sisters in captivity. This past week, we experienced a tragic loss in Jerusalem. Sgt. Rose Lubin, a’h was murdered by a terrorist in Jerusalem during her sacred duty of keeping Jews safe in our eternal capital. Rose emigrated from Atlanta as a Lone Soldier and served in the Border Police. In Atlanta she was an active member of the Jewish Student Union (JSU) in her local high school, an organization which I founded in 2002. She attended two JSU trips to Israel which intensified her love for and desire to serve the Jewish state. A number of our staff members are close to her family and recently she was at AISH to receive an award from the Police. We mourn with her family and keep the sacrifice of these young Jews close to our hearts.
I will be in Israel this coming week with our AISH Solidarity Mission. I am proud that AISH members from around the United States are traveling to Israel to bring supplies, volunteer, and show solidarity with the people of Israel. Many have reached out to us regarding the upcoming “March for Israel” in Washington DC. We unequivocally support this effort and many of the AISH branches are sending delegations. I especially think it is important for young Jews to attend.
A number of years ago, I was interviewed by a reporter who was doing an expose on my close friend, Aryeh Lightstone who was then the Deputy US Ambassador to Israel. It was clear that the reporter was trying to dig up negative aspects to Aryeh’s hire. He asked me if it was strange that Aryeh had been a leader for a national Jewish youth group as a part of his resume for such an important job in the US embassy. I told the reporter that he had it all wrong. Almost all Jewish leaders get their inspiration and hone their leadership skills in Jewish youth movements and that almost all of the current Jewish communal leaders had gotten their start at the rallies for Soviet Jewry in Washington. We must always strive to train young Jews to take our place and fight for the Jewish Nation.
In this context I was so touched by a text that was shared by Rabbi Simcha Tolwin from AISH Detroit. It was sent by a 13 year old girl who went to Israel on a family mission with the AISH branch. She was begging her parents for permission to go to Washington for the upcoming rally.
“I want to come to DC bc when I scroll on instagram and click on the comments and see all the hate on Jewish people I want to stand up for my people and fight back against them. I think it’s really important to have as many people as possible at the rally to show that we will stand up and fight against the hate and we won’t take it. I dont care if the rally can be unsafe I wanna be proud of my religion. I’d rather die proud then hide my religion and die. can I please come?”
When I read this I was moved to my core. This 13 year old clearly understands what it means to be a Jew. We stand for ethics and morality. We stand for honesty and integrity. We stand for each other. The world is desperately trying to strip the Jewish Nation of our dignity. Now more than ever we must teach young Jews to stand strong in their identity as Jews. I have seen calls that we must be careful and hide our Jewish identity; take down the mezuzahs from our doors and not wear kippot in the street. I humbly disagree.
We must be more proud than ever of being Jewish. The love and support that the Jews have shown for each other during the last month has been one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. Every Jew feels like their parents or sibling is being held captive in Gaza. Every Jew feels like the IDF are our sons and daughters. Every Jew knows that the world is jealous of our strength, both emotional and spiritual. As Jews we will continue to get stronger in spite of the hate and divisiveness that the world continues to throw upon us.
May the Almighty keep our Nation safe and quickly bring our brothers and sisters home. Am Yisrael Chai! The Nation of Israel truly lives!