We were all horrified by the events of this past week in Highland Park, Illinois. The community is a very Jewish neighborhood and so many of us waited for word on the condition of the victims. I was struck how immediately the Jewish community came together to pray and mourn as one. The first victim identified was Jacki Sundheim. Jacki was an employee of a local synagogue and clearly a special person.
As we were all focused on the tragic events, no one was focused on how observant the Jewish victims were. No one asked which denomination they ascribed to. All we knew was that a Jew’s life was tragically cut short and we mourned as one nation. Jews traditionally always come together and unify when tragedy strikes.
The same day this occurred, I spotted an article in the Israeli press regarding the wedding of the granddaughter of Knesset Member Moshe Gafni, the head of United Torah Judaism (UTJ), a Chareidi political party in Israel. The article talked about how politicians from across Israel’s political spectrum attended the wedding:
“Among those seen at the wedding were Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli of the Labor party, Welfare Minister Meir Cohen and Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy of Yesh Atid, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar of New Hope, Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich, Yamina MK Idit Silman, and MKs David Bitan and May Golan of Likud.” – Tobias Siegel in Times of Israel
There was even a video of Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, leader of the Labor party dancing with the bride! Gafni and Michaeli could not be further apart on the political spectrum. For a Jewish wedding everyone was able to take a break from political battles to celebrate the continuity of the Jewish people. Frankly, this is one of our best kept secrets that we must make a focal point in order for the Jewish nation to thrive.
The power of lifecycle events transcends any issues we may have with each other. As Jews we argue, we disagree, we are stubborn. Yet when it comes to death we mourn together. When it comes to happy events we celebrate together. We must always focus on what unites us and never on what divides us. Let us all continue to be there for each other in sickness and health. In the good times and the bad. No matter what happens we will always remain a family.