June 14, 2024
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June 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I am miles away but everything reminds me.

I walk down the street to get on the subway to work and I pass a bird lying on the ground with its wings decimated.

My body flinches and I look away.

I think of the bodies that were found;

the daughters and sons who came out of the safe room after hours of hiding to find their father murdered by evil;

the soldiers who found families destroyed;t

the Zaka volunteers who made sure everybody was treated with dignity;

the people who wanted to look away but they couldn’t and they didn’t.

How many times did they flinch?

How many times did they scream?

How many times did they gasp?

How many tears did they sob?

 

I am miles away but everything reminds me.

I walk to shul Shabbat morning on the Upper West Side.

There are papers strewn on the sidewalk,

ripped signs of those who were kidnapped.

I walk to the pole and see a sign still hanging, wet from the pouring rain.

It’s flopping in the wind.

I reach up and touch the faces of these strangers who are not strangers at all.

I try with desperation to gently caress and pat the sign open on the pole.

They must be seen.

No one gets to look away.

No one gets to keep walking.

No one gets to forget that these captives are still not home.

I run away sobbing as I pray that they are safe.

 

I am miles away but everything reminds me.

I’m walking down the street and see a man with tzitzit dancing out of his shirt.

I think of the soldiers who are out in the field,

the young, the old, the fathers, the brothers, the sons, the daughters and the sisters.

The ones who are putting themselves in danger every day to protect our home.

“Look for the helpers.”

There are so many,

so many people lining up to fill whatever void was created;

so many helpers, so much light.

So easy to find the helpers  if you just look around:

the girl raising money for a platoon to have equipment;

the boy giving out cotton candy for Tehillim to be said;

the restaurants kashering their kitchen to feed soldiers;

the women who come together to plan and make a wedding for a couple from the South;

the rabbis traveling to Israel with 102 duffel bags filled with necessities;

the communities opening their homes to those whose lives have been ravaged;

the 50,000 people who signed up to take upon themselves a mitzvah to protect a soldier.

There are helpers everywhere.

 

So much light for a nation that was thrown into darkness.

I can’t help but be honored to be a part of this nation.

It is a privilege to be able to call myself Jewish –

a nation of helpers, a nation of givers,

a nation of doers, a nation of love.

A nation, above all else, that will always be a family even when we may be strangers.

I am miles away and yet I am not, I am there.

Everything reminds me of the darkness.

I refuse to let it consume me,

and I must continue to remind myself of the light.

For every piece of dark evil there is so much glorious light.

That is how Hashem made this world.

So I will continue to be here, but there.

And I will continue to remind myself of the light.

I will remind myself that we are a nation of light.

Do you know what light does when it is surrounded by darkness?

Its glow shines so magnificently, brighter than ever before.


Shaina is an occupational therapist at a special education public school in Harlem. She currently lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and can be reached at [email protected].

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