After the recent terrorist attack in Jerusalem and murder of the members of the Fogel family in the Israeli settlement of Itamar, I spoke with the children in our religious school about these acts of violence.
I told them that one of the first stories I learned from the Midrash when I was in rabbinical school, and one which I have frequently told, is the one which likens the people of Israel to a lamb. We are compared to a lamb because a lamb is a fragile and sensitive animal. Anytime any one part of the lamb feels pain, the entire animal feels that pain. The rabbis teach that this is also true for the Jewish people.
I told the children that we are an extended family. Whenever any of our people are hurt or attacked, we all experience the pain and sense of loss, just like the lamb. I made a point of telling them, “I tell you this not to scare or frighten you. You should never be scared to visit Israel or think it is an unsafe place.” Rather, I explained, I shared this with them so that they would always understand that we are one people and that whatever happens to a Jew anywhere in the world, affects all of us since we have a shared fate and common destiny.
I took the time to do this because I think it is important, especially in these times when there are concerns about people not having a strong connection to the State of Israel, that rabbis do all we can to help to educate our youth and young people to understand that we are one people. Rather than merely lament the diminishing of the connection, rabbis must lead and do all that we can to strengthen and educate our congregants to appreciate this bond.
I concluded by telling our children, “Hopefully many, many years from now, you will still remember the message I have tried to impart to you and will always understand your responsibility to and for your fellow Jews.”
Also published on Medium.