Monday, April 15, 2024 -
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Extraordinary confluence

“Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, who frees the captive.”

In the space of less than 24 hours, I was privileged to witness this blessing fulfilled not only once but twice, to recite it knowing of the release of three captives in two totally different worlds.

The unexpected confluence goes back to the beginning of the Israel-Hamas War. One of the first people who reached out to me after Oct. 7 was one of my closest friends. OK, not surprising. But this friend is a practicing Muslim, and our backgrounds are a big part of our friendship. While many have felt a sense of betrayal from friends and colleagues they thought were allies, I’ve been blessed to have my friends’ support.

Shortly after Oct. 7, my friend shared that her brother, who dared to be a whistleblower in a corruption case in the Middle Eastern country he’s from, was arrested in front of his family and imprisoned. For the first 48 hours, they had no idea where he was and feared he was “disappeared.” At the eight-week mark, he was being held without charge and hadn’t yet been granted a hearing. “Kafka-esque,” she described it.

Her brother’s name joined those of the hostages who I had begun praying for daily.

Then came Super Bowl Sunday. Nothing like a major sporting event to get me to pay attention to social media. So there I was, passively watching the game and scrolling through X, when the news came through: The IDF freed two hostages from Rafah.

Immediately I uttered those words: “Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, Ruler of the Universe who frees the captive.” I couldn’t believe it. This time those words were not a supplication but a blessing of gratitude.

Then came the next morning. An email from my friend. Her brother finally had his hearing. He was found innocent and scheduled to be released later that day.

The extraordinary confluence felt like Divine Providence. A sign from above — that the remaining 134 hostages being held by Hamas will be freed. That Evan Gershkovich, the journalist being held by Russia, whose detainment has been eclipsed by the Israel-Hamas War but who we must recommit to including in our prayers and advocacy, will be released and return home to his family.

Perhaps more than anything, a reminder that if we respect each other’s humanity, our friendships need not suffer, no matter the circumstances.

“Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.”
— Khalil Gibran, “On Friendship”

Shana Goldberg may be reached at [email protected].

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