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When a dream becomes reality: the world’s loudest Shema

קריאת שמע לשחרור החטופים

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Today is Ta’anit Esther, a fast day. Three weeks ago, Amos Meron wrote me that this year we needed to take this day and make it into a day of worldwide prayer.

I just looked at our correspondence and recalled that, at the outset, this idea seemed pretentious. But before I could respond, he already sent me a draft of the first announcement regarding the initiative. “Queen Esther taught us that we need to unite and shout,” he wrote. “This will be a great day of fasting and prayer.”

Two days later, another announcement from Amos arrived: “This is beginning to move forward. We already have many partners and they are turning this into a professional campaign. We contacted the representatives of the hostages, evacuees, grieving families, families of the wounded. Everyone became part of the story. We also received permission to broadcast from the Kotel. Jews from 47 countries will be with us for a live broadcast and all of us together will recite the Shema at 5:30 pm Israel time.”

The campaign just kept growing. Yesterday I received an announcement that Yitzhak Herzog, the President of Israel, called for a worldwide Shema. And friends from New York, London, and Ukraine (!) wrote me that their communities would join the recitation of the Shema today at the appointed time.

I learned from this story not only about the power of Queen Esther, but also about the power of a single individual to make a dream that includes the participation of millions come true. And now we can only wait for the loudest Shema that was ever heard.

May this and all our prayers be accepted.

Link to a livestream from the kotel at 5:30 PM Israel time

The Fast of Esther — this year more than ever

Today, Thursday, is Ta’anit Esther, the fast day before Purim. Queen Esther asked all the Jews to fast because of Haman’s genocidal decree. In response, the nation of Israel united, fasted, and prayed together. How relevant this is to us today.

In Israel, we have been saying that this year is not only Ta’anit Esther. It is also Ta’anit Daniella (Daniella Gilboa, a hostage), Ta’anit Romi (Romi Leshem Gonen, another hostage), and a Ta’anit (fast day) dedicated to many other sisters of ours who are being held captive in Gaza.

I do not know what Esther had to endure under a foreign ruler but, in seeking solidarity, she asked the people to fast for her and for them. I do not know what our sisters under the brutal rulers of Gaza have had to endure, but we have an opportunity to join together for them now.

At 5:30 in the evening Israel time, towards the end of the fast this evening, there will be a grand worldwide recital of the Shema in unison.

May this and all of our prayers be accepted.


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