OpinionIsrael News

United in grief, united in strength

The sacrifices of our soldiers remind us, “If not now, when?”

Israeli soldiers operating against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Nov. 1, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Israeli soldiers operating against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Nov. 1, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Simmy Allen
Simmy Allen is the international media spokesperson for Yad Vashem.

In the wake of the recent tragic loss of our civilians and soldiers on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and its southern border with the Gaza Strip, a somber cloud of sorrow has descended upon the global Jewish community and humanity as a whole.

We find ourselves once again facing an existential threat to our people, grappling with the heart-wrenching reality that more precious lives have been sacrificed for our national continuity. Each fallen soldier represents another son or daughter, another mother or father, another brother or sister lost to the unforgiving battlefield.

But even in the midst of this profound sadness and bitterness, we draw upon an unyielding wellspring of strength to ensure that Israel continues to flourish in the face of these existential dangers and serves as the homeland for all Jews.

How do we hold steadfast in our mission? The answer lies in the unbreakable bond of unity that binds us together. While the world may underestimate the Jewish nation due to our relatively small numbers, we possess a force more formidable than any arsenal of missiles: an unwavering unity of purpose and spirit. This unity is the bedrock upon which we build our faith and culture.

Throughout our history, in times of crisis, we have seen our people come together as one, irrespective of our geographic dispersion. The call to duty has reverberated across borders. Jews from all walks of life, both in uniform and out, have been drafted into this collective army.

Yet it is crucial to recognize that the weapons aimed at us are not restricted to the borders of Israel alone. The front, as we are painfully reminded, is global. Wherever you are in the world, “they” are looking for you. No matter how safe you may feel in your current surroundings, do not be fooled by the illusion that you are at home in the Diaspora.

The message is clear: come home, stand up and make a difference. If not now, when? The urgency of this moment demands action, unity and unwavering determination. Our ancestors endured hardships, persecution and adversity throughout history, and they have emerged stronger each time. We too possess the resilience to overcome the challenges that confront us today. But we must do it together.

Our unity is our greatest source of strength. It is the foundation upon which we can build a better, safer future for our people. The sacrifices made by our soldiers remind us of the high cost of preserving our Jewish identity. They are a somber reminder but one we owe to the memory of those we have lost, to our children and to the generations yet to come who will defend our homeland and our heritage.

Let us also draw inspiration from their dedication and commitment to our shared cause. Let their sacrifice serve as a catalyst for unity; for in unity lies our unwavering courage. Together, we can withstand the storms that threaten to engulf us and emerge stronger, more resolute and determined to secure a brighter future for the Jewish people and for humanity as a whole.

In these trying times, let us remember the ancient words of Hillel the Elder: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” The time to act is now, for the threat is real and the war is global.

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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