* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])
More names of fallen soldiers in Gaza were announced last night and this morning. These are difficult days. In my sixth and concluding meeting with Jewish communities in the United States, Sara Bluming, a Chabad emissary in Maryland, asked: “Perhaps you have some good news for us?”.
“Perhaps you are the good news,” I answered her. It could be that a historic shift in the mindset of millions of Diaspora Jews is underway.
I hear more and more about American families that are making Aliyah. And similar news is coming out of France.
And there are many local successful recent initiatives. Here are some examples of things that are going on: Rabbi Nochem Tenenboim, a Chabad emissary in Hewlett, New York, told me that after Simchat Torah, when he heard that 1,100 had been murdered, he launched a project whereby 1,100 Jews would make a new ongoing commitment to Jewish practice or activity. In this manner, he would light 1,100 eternal flames in honor of those that were lost.
The response has been phenomenal. A woman is now coming to a weekly class in Judaism and the Hebrew language. A man has begun to put on tefillin every day. Someone else will soon be starting a year of study in Israel. And Rabbi Nochem continues to ignite a flame in the souls of the living to eternalize the souls of those that were lost.
At the beginning of an event in Westchester, someone was asked to read a prayer for Israel, but she broke down in the middle and could not continue. If only I could bring such emotion and pure intention to every word of my prayers.
And at the last event I attended in Potomac, Maryland, Sara Bluming told me that people who had never come to any Chabad activity are now coming. They do not even know how to explain why they are coming or what they want, but they are coming.
Will this sudden surge of interest in Israel and Judaism become a significant movement? Will we remember this year not only for its pain and many hardships but for causing an awakening and a turning point in our nation’s history?
The events of Simchat Torah taught us that evil can surprise and hurt us in ways we could never imagine. So let’s also imagine the incredible good that we now see happening all around us as millions of Jews throughout the world awaken, return to their inherent Jewish identity, and come home to their nation.
May all of us hear good news.