Saturday, December 9, 2023 -
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The few against many

As our bus crossed New York the state line, melting into the blazing gold and burgundy sunset colors of the beautiful November fall foliage, so many competing thoughts crossed my mind.

Hundreds of thousands gathered in Washington, DC on Nov. 14, 2023 in solidarity with Israel.

Our destination: Washington DC.

The White House.

As we are about to pull into our rest stop in Delaware, our bus converges with multiple other busses.

Suddenly we have slipped into and become a part of a caravan of busses.

A taste of what’s to come in the pending hours when tens— perhaps hundreds of thousands of us, will stand as One People before the White House, the symbol and bedrock of Western civilization’s freedom.

At the pit stop in Delaware, different types of Jews descend from the accumulating busses. An ocean of Jews, with people at the gas station staring at us in wonder, not quite understanding what is happening.

All of us, united in mind and purpose.

One urgent mission:

Am Yisrael.

We are going for one reason: to stand together and be one voice. 

To be a voice for little confused traumatized children who don’t understand and didn’t yet know there is evil in this world, weeping and shrieking out in dark underground tunnels. Ema! Aba!

Children whose world should encompass hearing soothing bedtime stories before they go to sleep, or receiving a comforting hug from a loved one, yet are now paralyzed in terror at gunpoint. Or, babies, instead of a whispering lullaby, might likely be hearing the cruelties of depraved monsters. And all the generation of the parents and grandparents.

We will be your voice! We hear your silent screams! We will simply come and stand together as one, to show that our 240 hostages, truly are, for us, our brothers and sisters. To share in this tza’ar (suffering) together. To show that we care and that we will be there for each other.

We also stand for the cause of all hostages caught in the grips of evil, whether the formality of the word “hostages” is conferred upon millions, or not.

In a sense, it’s also an anachronistic showing up with our strong voice.

My European ancestry that was decimated in the Holocaust; they didn’t have a voice when the world — including America — looked away.

Today we do have a voice. We live in a democracy. We’ve lived through the treachery of a Kristallnacht before — its anniversary just days ago — and know what such rampages mean.

It’s Rosh Chodesh Kislev today, a month whose motif is light. A month which historically encompasses miracles.

Each night of Chanukah we kindle another candle on the menorah. For eight nights, we incrementally increase light in the world in commemoration of the great battle we once won.

There was a time when lighting the menorah in this sequence was not a forgone conclusion. Beit Shamai and Beit Hillel debated, should we light a full blazing menorah with eight candles on the first night of Chanukah, diminishing one candle at a time, until the last night when we would be left to light one candle on the final night? Or should we inaugurate Chanukah with the fire of one humble candle, and then night by night increase the light, increasing the candles, culminating in a full blazing menorah at the conclusion of the holiday?

We follow Beit Hillel. We manifest the idea of increasing light in this world.

Al hanisim (on miracles), we say. Rabim b’yad me’atim, the many in the hands of the few, we once vanquished.

Here we are again —the few, against a “many,” who sadly seem to lack a moral clarity, a light, that is covered with a certain moral darkness or at least confusion about what ought to be the right and what ought to be the wrong, in the world.

We will, together, on this Rosh Chodesh Kislev, stand and be a light. A beacon! In broad daylight!

I pray our united and emotionally charged spirit of our Am Yisrael family will bring the age-old words of Jeremiah: V’shavu banim ligvulam, to life in our time. Amen.

Copyright © 2023 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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