OpinionIsrael at War

Above all else, I am a Jew

That is why, following the Hamas massacre, I dropped everything to volunteer at a trauma center near the Israel-Lebanon border.

Crowds of Israelis wave flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City during Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 18, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Crowds of Israelis wave flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City during Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 18, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Dr. Louis M. Profeta
Dr. Louis M. Profeta is an award-winning writer and emergency physician at St. Vincent Hospital of Indianapolis.

I am a father, a husband, a writer, an emergency physician in a level-one trauma center in Indianapolis.

But after Oct. 7, I realized that, above all things, I am a Jew.

That’s exactly what I told my professional colleagues when, following the Hamas massacre, I dropped everything to volunteer at a trauma center near the Israel-Lebanon border.

This epiphany about my identity didn’t occur overnight. I had been to Israel on a few other occasions: a wedding in the 1990s, a mass casualty symposium in the early 2000s at Western Galilee Medical Center (the same hospital at which I recently volunteered) and on Momentum’s very first trip for men in 2013.

There are moments and scenes from that trip and other experiences that, to this day, serve to awaken my neshama—my Jewish soul.

I bore witness to the bar mitzvah of a grown man on the plateau of Masada while dozens of other men, who up until then had never known each other, danced and sang and cried with a joy so loud that I swear Hashem looked down from the heavens and shouted, “Hey, turn it down, you’re too loud.”

There was the Tehillim rally for my sick son in the library of Yeshiva University. There was the commitment of his classmates and the friends I made in Israel and throughout the Jewish community who rushed to save his life and donate blood after he was diagnosed with cancer.

There was my new Chasidic friend who comforted me in the halls of the Sloan-Kettering hospital while his own child was suffering from cancer. My middle child promised Hashem he would keep kosher if his brother survived. He did.

Those were the seeds of my realization that the solitary Jew is nonexistent. Indeed, Momentum played an integral role in my Jewish journey that brought me to the Western Galilee Medical Center when my people needed it the most.

While Momentum was founded as an organization dedicated to helping Jewish women—and their husbands—feel more connected to Israel, its role in sparking a much greater sense of Jewish activism and volunteerism cannot be understated.

Tapping into its extensive community of alumni that spans over 23,000 women from 36 countries, Momentum has launched its Momentum Mobilizes Campaign, a multi-pronged initiative established in the early days of the Israel-Hamas war to create a connection to what’s happening in Israel, deliver support through educational initiatives and inspire action through opportunities to do something positive for Israel in local Jewish communities. Momentum has also worked in partnership with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs to combat antisemitism abroad, helping Jews outside of Israel find their voice and the strength to speak up.

Through this immersive experience in Israel, Momentum has catalyzed the building of an army of dedicated ambassadors not only for the Jewish state but for global Jewish values.

I am one of those ambassadors.

Unfortunately, Momentum had to cancel its annual fall trips to Israel due to the war, but it did host solidarity missions to Israel that brought 250 parents from the United States, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, the United Kingdom and more to focus on the need for unity in this time of crisis. Around 40 of those parents have a lone soldier currently serving in the IDF.

These solidarity missions underscore the organization’s belief in unity without uniformity and that Jews from various backgrounds will have much to learn and gain from standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel during this difficult time.

Connecting to Jewish values, engaging with Israel, taking action and fostering unity without uniformity are the four pillars of Momentum. 

So, I did what Momentum instilled in me as a Jew. I took action. How could I not?

I dropped everything and ran to help my family, my entire family, the millions who live between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, from Rosh Hanikra to Eilat, from the Golan to the Sinai border. The thousands who rallied to my aid, danced on Masada and cried at the wall comforted me in my time of need.

I came home before I went back home because I am a Jew. Above all things. I am a Jew and Momentum helped me see that.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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