Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
“Do you really know what’s going on here? Are you praying for us?” a friend from New York asked me. I am thinking that, no, we are not doing enough and I want to devote a few sentences of support and positive reinforcement to our Disapora brethren.
I have many friends there, former Israelis and Americans. Actually, all of us have millions of brothers and sisters there. And they are in a crisis.
Before we came home, every time I received a new WhatsApp message in our New York neighborhood, I was afraid to open it. I did not want to see another photo of an elderly Jew who had passed away. Sometimes, this was happening every few hours. Only last week, two American Jewish luminaries passed away: the president of Agudath Israel of America and the secretary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Both of them – as sad and odd as it may seem – were escorted to the grave by only ten men.
Average American Jews have far less experience than we do living under threats and emergency situations. In addition, community life is of much greater significance to them. They do not live in a Jewish state and so, instead, they built for themselves over the years empires based on education and Chesed. For some of them, to close their synagogue is a bit like closing their hearts. Everything happens around the synagogue: group activities, lectures, kiddushes and simchas. Identity over there is built on this sense of togetherness.
Also, the coronavirus situation in the Diaspora is much more difficult, especially in Europe and the United States, than it is here. And now in the US the virus death toll has just surpassed that of Italy. Although in Israel we are on edge, we still manage to pass along jokes about isolation and our kids and singing on balconies – while the atmosphere in Diaspora Jewish communities is far gloomier.
This question – “Do you really know what’s going on here? Are you praying for us?” – is ringing in my ears and compelled me to write the above.
Wishing the best to all of our brothers and sisters, wherever you may be.