July 16, 2024
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July 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

אין כמו עם ישראל

I have never felt as connected to being a Jew as I have in these past few crazy days. All over the world, endless chesed opportunities have turned up, and people everywhere are trying to help in every way they can. From hosting families fleeing from the south to chartering planes full of supplies for chayalim, to taking care of dogs who were abandoned, nothing is too big or small to make a difference in the current situation we are in, and to help Am Yisrael.

Upon hearing the news on Shabbat of the terror and horrible things that were happening in Israel, my first reaction, I’m sure with almost everyone else, was fear. But we have to stop asking לָמַה (why) and start asking לְמַה (for what). What can we do in this horrible situation to help? What is this for, what can we contribute to alleviate some of the pain and troubles our fellow members of Am Yisrael are going through? Being in Israel, baruch Hashem, there are so many chesed opportunities in front of us. The amount of WhatsApp chats created to get out word of chesed opportunities, or even chats just created for people to send chizuk have popped up out of nowhere.

Tons of families in the south have been fleeing their homes with nowhere to go. My friend graciously offered her apartment to couples with young babies to stay in. She jumped at the opportunity to be able to host a family, because they are our family. They are a part of Am Yirsael, and they needed help, and she was able to help them. To any outsider, this would seem like a crazy thing to do, to volunteer your home for random people you’ve never met before. But for us, it is second nature; our family needs help, so we help them. She, along with the Midereshet HaRova shana bet, have been cleaning the house, buying food for them, and cooking for them, so they arrive feeling at home and safe. Other kids from the Jerusalem area, either who have made aliyah or who are in yeshiva or midrasha just showed up at the apartment, wanting to do anything they could. We realized we didn’t have anywhere near that was walking distance to buy mehadrin chicken, so we asked if they’d be willing to drive and get some. I had never met these kids before that day, and I barely even knew their names, and happily gave them my credit card to go and buy chicken for these people. I trust them, because they are a part of Am Yisrael, helping Am Yisrael.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have lived in the Rova for the past year-plus, and I have never seen it as empty as I have in the past few days. The streets are silent, stores closed, it’s really just a crazy scene to see a usually bustling area completely empty. Midreshet HaRova students, along with other yeshivas in the Rova, have taken it upon themselves to be the “kotel ambassadors” for the rest of Am Yisrael who aren’t able to make it to the Kotel. People have taken names of soldiers to say Tehillim for everyday, there’s been organized singing there, and just really trying to be at the Kotel on behalf of everyone who wishes they could be there but can’t. Every day, the Burgers Bar in the Rova has opened up by lunchtime to pack sandwiches for chayalim. It’s crazy to walk by a store and see that it’s closed down to be able to help feed those who are protecting us. Only Am Yisrael would close down a store for regular business to be able to do such a chesed. It’s crazy to see the Rova still so alive with chesed throughout these times.

On Tuesday, a couple of girls saw a message that there was a wedding in the Old City, and the chatan’s and kallah’s family couldn’t make it into Israel to be there. Immediately, all the schools of the Rova jumped at the opportunity to be mesameach chatan v’kallah. It was such a surreal experience to dance with this kallah whom I didn’t know just 20 minutes before, and be able to be there for her on her wedding day. This wedding was definitely a crazy moment for everyone there. As we stood on the rooftop overlooking the Kotel watching this couple get married, it really hit me how crazy of a moment it was. Here we were, standing on a rooftop overlooking the Kotel, saying the misheberach for chayalim at the chuppah of this couple. Once we got to the end we all sang “Im Eshkachech” looking directly at Har Habayit. Here we were, at this wedding we never would have thought even five days ago that we would ever be at, all together davening for our brothers and sisters. Because we are all Am Yisrael, we are all one big family, trying to be there for each other in big and small ways.

Nothing is too small; you just have to act. Such intense emotions during these times can be extremely overwhelming. It’s easy to feel helpless, but when you remember nothing you do is too small, you can be motivated to be a part of helping Am Yisrael. Even what seems like the smallest things are so impactful. I have been witness to so much amazing chesed surrounding me in Israel, but even in America or anywhere in the world the opportunities to be helpful are endless. There’s always something to do, even if it’s saying Tehillim, or donating money to a cause. Nothing is too big or too small. Everyone has their strengths, and people everywhere are just coming together to help do what they do best to help Am Yisrael, It is incredibly inspiring to see. Be’ezrat Hashem, we should be able to take such challenging times and create as much light as possible.


Talia Graber is a proud Zionist and member of Am Yisrael. She is a shana bet student at Midreshet HaRova in the old city of Jerusalem.

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