A letter to my Jewish teen community

As we all know, there is a very sad and deadly war going on in the Middle East currently with Israel and Hamas. We are starting to see things that haven’t been seen or done since the times of the Holocaust, such as killing a mass amount of innocent Jews or labeling houses of people who are Jewish. This conflict of land has stretched way farther and deeper; it has now come down to straight antisemitism. 

Even though there is so much negativity going on regarding this conflict, I want to talk about how this is a great opportunity to come together as a community. I know it’s hard right now to go out and show our love for Israel and being Jewish when there are messages and warnings telling us to stop. Recently a message was put out to stop identifying yourself as Jewish in public. People stopped wearing their stars of David and are keeping their Jewish profiles down to a minimum out of fear of losing their lives. This is not how we should live and that’s why it’s so important now more than ever to show your support.

One way you can come together as a community is to go to your synagogue as often as you can. I know that it’s not always the easiest thing to go to a service you may not understand or relate to. Even if the service doesn’t relate to you or you don’t understand, showing up is the first step. When you go to something you support, even if you do not understand it in the slightest, it shows you care because when you care about something so much it’s worth going to support. Another thing that goes along with going to synagogue is the peace rallies for Israel. A lot of different synagogues are hosting rallies, some with people coming to speak, pray, or stand in silence to show support.

Another way to get connected to Israel is education. There is so much information from a bunch of different sides that it’s so hard to know it all. I know I definitely  do not know everything on the topic since I learn something new every day. Some ways you can educate yourself is by listening to reliable sources. Some sources and news channels can be biased or very one sided. That is not a good source. Another way to educate yourself is to attend online classes. I have noticed all over instagram there are all sorts of either pre recorded videos from historians, people on the ground, and Rabbis. There are also some where you can join a zoom and hear people speak live and ask questions. There is no such thing as a bad question especially in this context.

I know in times like these it’s hard to find a reason to get up and live a normal life when so many are struggling in Israel.  It also feels like our voices are non-existent or so small. As the Jewish community, we have to be strong. This is not new for us since this is not the first time people have tried to knock us down. I want to leave you with something to think about: If our voices are so small, why would anyone feel the need to fight back against us? We do have loud voices, and we are even louder together. Remember that it is better to have a voice than sit in the dark and watch it all happen.

Wishing you all the best,

Shayna Kamm