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United As a People We Will Get Through This

The past six months have been unlike any in recent memory. I say in recent memory because there is a cycle to Jewish history and in the wisdom of King Solomon 3,000 years ago, there is “nothing new under the sun.” Yet, I feel that we have gone through several mood swings over the past few months. Coming out of Oct. 7th we were shocked and there was a sense of national mourning. We witnessed the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Somehow, our evil enemies found new and inventive ways to desecrate the Jewish people. Our hurt was palpable and unparalleled. 

We then switched gears to doing what Jews have done since the dawn of Judaism. When Abraham heard that his nephew Lot had been kidnapped in a war, he immediately raised the first Jewish special forces unit and went to battle to save him. That established one of the most important rules in Jewish culture throughout the ages. Whenever and wherever a Jew is in trouble, we never abandon each other. Immediately the IDF raced to save our kidnapped Jewish brothers and sisters. 


An IDF soldier about to head into Gaza in October writes a prayer to be put in the Kotel


We felt enormous pride as these Jewish heroes left everything behind and raced to Gaza. Never has there been a clearer definition of the fight between good and evil. We slowly watched as the world started to turn against us forgetting how the conflict began with the murder and rape of innocent men, women, and children. I remember sitting in one of the Israeli Government Ministers’ offices a few days after Oct. 7th as he was telling me how the world was united behind Israel and would allow us to do what needed to be done. I recall thinking at the time that these positive sentiments would not last. They didn’t. 


Every week for the past six months as Aish has stood solidly behind Israel and the IDF, I have received responses to my email with ‘colorful’ language and accusations of supporting genocide. These responses make it seem as if this war would not end tomorrow if the hostages would just be released. The unfairness of the world blaming the Jewish people for trying to bring our brothers and sisters home is outrageous. There has never been a clearer case of international antisemitism than the world’s reaction to current events. Violence against Jews in the streets has reached an all-time high. It is a world that has turned upside down on a moral and ethical level. 


This brings me to the new mood I am sensing today. It is a mood mixed with fear and apprehension. The headlines are full of declarations by Iran and its proxies to attack Israel in horrific ways that have not yet been seen. Many are asking me what will be with the future of Jewry and Israel. It is within this spirit that I want to depart from my regular style of reporting on the important work within Aish and tell you what’s in my heart. My heart is filled with love and faith for the Almighty.


Jamie Geller hands a soldier a drink and a note prior to the soldier's deployment to Gaza in October


In ten days we will all be sitting down to our Passover Seder where we will recall how the Jewish people were saved from the savagery of the Egyptians. We were enslaved and so many Jews were beaten to death regularly. Just when it seemed there was no hope, the Almighty sent Moses to save us and bring us to the promised land of Israel. It is in times of crisis that the Almighty is there to uplift us. It is in times of crisis that we need the Almighty’s support and love the most. 


As Jews, we are well aware of our story. We were exiled 2,000 years ago from Israel. Every country we went to we tried our hardest to serve the local government and improve the lives of our fellow man. Yet every time, the Jews were viewed as a fifth column, massacred, and sent packing. I am reminded of an incident a few years ago when I was in Saudi Arabia talking to one of the leaders there. He had watched Abba Eban’s famous documentary “Israel, A Nation is Born” in preparation for our visit, and he made reference to the Jews being thrown out of Spain. I told him that there was hardly a country on earth that the Jews had not been thrown out of, including most of those in the Middle East. 


IDF soldiers preparing to be deployed to Gaza write prayers to be put in the Kotel that will be delivered by Rabbi Steven Burg and Aish staff


Yet, after 2,000 years we found our way home to Israel. After facing the worst genocide in our history, in 1948, just three short years after the Holocaust, the Jewish people came together to establish the State of Israel. Jews finally came home to Israel. Our true home of 3,500 years. The dream of our forefathers became a reality. We have worked hard ever since to create a haven on earth where Jews could finally stop worrying about being persecuted and exiled. Yet, our neighbors have constantly attacked us and the world has vilified us for wanting to live in peace. 


As we face some of the most extreme threats to the Jewish people in all of our history; As Iran, joined by Hezbollah, and all of its evil tentacles threatens to reign down tens of thousands of missiles on the Jewish people, I say to you that in my heart I know that the Almighty will not abandon us. The Almighty has not brought us back home to abandon us. The Almighty went into battle with us to bring the hostages home. There is no greater priority for the Almighty than seeing His children unified and loving one another. Seeing so many Jewish heroes of the IDF leave their families to save their fellow Jews has left all of our hearts bursting with pride. 


Aish staff showing their support for IDF soldiers prior to their deployment to Gaza in October


I remember sitting in a rehab center with a young soldier who was left for dead on the side of the road by the terrorists and had his leg amputated due to the severity of the wounds. He told me that even though he knows his life is now changed forever he would do it again because there is no greater cause than defending the Jewish people. How blessed we are to have heroes like this. So as Iran and its evil henchman continue to threaten us, I know that just as the Almighty saved us in Egypt 3,000 years ago, He will stand by us today. He will not allow evil to win over good. He will never abandon His children.


Rabbi Steven Burg with Shalom, an IDF soldier who was injured in Gaza and is undergoing rehabilitation in an Israeli hospital


Our job is clear. We must strive to stay unified as a people. This is often easier said than done. We must all redouble our efforts to engage and hug Jews who may be different than we are. We must stand strong and never give up hope for our brothers and sisters who are still in captivity in Gaza. Most of all, we must never forget that we are all blessed with a Father in Heaven who loves us with the greatest love imaginable. We must continue to cry out to Him to help us for our enemies cannot stand before Him. We will get through this. We will emerge stronger. We are the Jewish Nation. Am Yisrael Chai!