October 7 and a renewed sense of ‘we’

by Sally Abrams

This story was originally published in Times of Israel on Mar. 18.

If Jews had forgotten that Am Yisrael is one people, no matter where we live, October 7 and its aftermath have reminded us.

We are witnessing an outpouring of Diaspora solidarity with Israel the likes of which we haven’t experienced for decades. There is an awakened sense of “we,” of shared destiny. It has the power to fortify our people with the bravery we need to navigate this terrible time and to bind us more deeply to our shared Jewish story. How can we turn this love and concern, this surge of attachment, into a deeper connection that will outlast this moment?

For the past five months, Diaspora Jews have been consumed with the desire to help, to ease the suffering in some small way. That desire is filling airplanes with volunteers on solidarity missions to Israel. It has enabled the Jewish Federations of North American (JFNA) to raise over $700 million dollars in an emergency campaign. I’ve lost count of the number of individuals who are taking action in their own way — collecting supplies, raising funds for a specific need, and even sending pizza dinners and messages of support to families who have one parent serving in the reserves. The idea tapped into a powerful need to connect personally, as one American mom wrote to her Israeli counterpart, “I don’t know you…but I know you.”

Let’s take that need to connect personally to the next level. How can we cultivate genuine relationships with each other?

Although Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews live thousands of miles apart under very different circumstances, we are like two sides of one coin — inseparable, but in need of a mirror to be able to see the other side clearly.

I believe that mirror is friendship.


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