More than a year ago, I decided to dedicate myself to Israel advocacy. It was a school day after math class, the phone rang and the women on the other side said to me “we want you,” (very American of her). Of course my initial reactions were screaming, smiling non-stop, and telling everyone that I did it. I got what I wanted I am going help Israel in the diaspora, I am going to serve my country in a different way for a year. Obviously I was extremely happy, however, back then I didn’t realize how significant this role is.
Passover is one of my favorite holidays first of all because my whole family is gathering around the same table speaking about our lives and goals, but it is also because of the songs. When we sing the lyrics of vehi she’amda; “in every generation someone tries to vanish us from the history but every time God saves us,” I can’t help myself from thinking how accurate it is; and how it’s an unfortunate situation that must be condemned.
This Passover was special to me because for the first time, I didn’t spend it with my biological family. I did spend it with my American families. Besides missing my family in Israel and reading the hagadah in English and embracing all the different traditions (and even doing it twice!), I looked at the table and I realized something special.
Yes, in every generation, unfortunately Jews need to fight for their right to live peacefully. The question that rises immediately is how? How can we guarantee that we will be saved again and again?
I don’t think we can only trust God in this matter, I think we are responsible for saving ourselves. Judaism was the first to have a universal God. The idea of universality was at the core of Judaism right from the beginning, meaning we always thought that this is what will save us. Indeed, what has saved us is not just about one God, it is also about one nation. Although the Jewish people are miles apart, we have to try maintaining unity and see the future of the Jewish community as a sum of all the Jewish communities worldwide.
I was 12 when I was first exposed to Fiddler on the Roof. I remember that at the beginning I didn’t realize why that’s the name of the play, but I did figure this out: without Jewish tradition, the stability of the Jewish community is like the stability of a fiddler on a roof. I want to add one thing to those wise words, without the keeping of the unity and the tradition of the Jewish nation, our stability is like a fiddler on the roof.
So how can we remain connected and united?
Well maybe I am bribed, but there is nothing as strong as actually meeting the people.
Since day one here in Boston I have known that I am one of the faces if not the only face of Israel for many of the people here. Who I am and my actions will reflect their way of thinking about Israel. When they realize that next year I am the person who will be serving in the IDF, it won’t be that far for them anymore, because they know me. It’s not just a uniform, it’s Yael that is standing behind them. Yael.
It’s hard to bring all the Jewish people in Boston to Israel, but it is possible to bring and integrate a few Israelis in the Jewish community here or elsewhere. By doing that we have the opportunity to create personal connections among both sides.
Inevitably, because this connection is based on balance, those personal connections work vice versa. I am a double agent. Every day I am speaking here in Boston about Israel, and when I return to Israel I’ll be the representative of the Boston Jewish community, because I experienced it more than most Israelis, meaning my job here won’t be over.
That conversation over the phone is the moment when I decided to help carry the weight of this connection, to help enrich it for the rest of my life. I am so happy that I got the chance to help fulfill this great cause of saving the Jewish nation one more time. Only when the next generation comes, and Jews will be able to sit around the table and sing in Hebrew or English or any other language, will we know that once more as always we’ve been saved.