By Golan Tsdaff --- October 7, Modi'in, Israel. I wake up to the sound of shouting. "Call your parents to ask if they are okay." A few hours later, we grasp the magnitude of the disaster. Thankfully, my family and relatives are all safe. In the Modi'in-Jerusalem area, the war is primarily felt through the screens and the shock reflected in everyone's eyes. I'm afraid I'll find out that one of the many wonderful students I've taught over the years has perished or been kidnapped. Relentless voices of news echo in every space. Days later, I'm on an El Al plane departing from Ben Gurion Airport, named after Israel's first prime minister and one of its founding figures. There have been wars in the past, disasters have not been spared from us. But today's Israel is a different country from Ben Gurion's, and the anxiety is not the same anxiety.
Manifestations of anti-Semitism and affection for jihadists are flooding Europe. What the hell am I doing here, I ask myself. I do not forget that before this war there was another battle. Nearly half of Israelis voted - directly or indirectly - for a leader in whom their brothers and sisters have zero trust. The process of alienation of the liberal community had reached its peak, and the relationship of the State of Israel to Diaspora Jewry has hit a historic low. As a liberal Jew, I wonder where I truly belong.
Kabbalat Shabbat at IJC. There is an outpouring of concern for my well-being, and this warms my heart. Yet I sense that our community is even more apprehensive than my community in Israel. How do we bring the communal resilience I have witnessed in Israel to our community here? I convene a gathering to talk about how we are coping. So much sadness, but we emerge encouraged and strengthened.
I see the incredible mobilization of the liberal community in Israel and the Diaspora. I hold emotional support conversations with all my students in Israel, and my spirit is uplifted.
We are going through difficult days, but exactly in these days an opportunity manifests - to rally, contribute, strengthen and grow stronger. Small actions that make a meaningful impact await us.
Am Yisrael Chai.
Golan is the IJC’s administrator