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Best of SNO

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תִּיקּוּן עוֹלָם (Tikkun Olam)

I am a Jewish Student Struggling to Maintain Normalcy at School During the War in Israel
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The Parker Weekly

As a Jewish student, this past week has been incredibly difficult for me. I sit in my classes and go about my day as my Israeli friends, my neighbors, my relatives, are in bomb shelters fearing for their lives. I find it impossible to maintain feelings of normalcy while my people are under attack. 

** The following comes from the Hamas covenant, and should not be correlated with the views of Palestinian people. 

The Jewish Virtual Library with sources from Yale Law School presents this line of the Hamas covenant: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until [we] fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” When I read this, I was scared. These sentiments are antisemitic. 

Jewish people are under attack, and as Hamas leaders have called for a “Worldwide Day of Rage,” Jewish day schools and synogouges have closed, and our own school has increased security. To know that we are not safe in our schools or places of worship is devastating.

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I understand that there is a long and complicated history between Israel and Palestine, and it is incredibly important to recognize that there is a difference between Palestine and Palestinian people and Hamas. I find it disturbing that there are social media posts circulating that perpetuate a false narrative. Posts that justify the killing of teenagers my age and the raping of young women. Posts that clump Palestinian people into the same category as Hamas saying this is what Palestine wants. This misinformation is incredibly dangerous on both sides and will do nothing to decrease polarization or encourage peace. It is important to separate the Palestinian people from Hamas as it is important to separate the Israeli people from their government. Government protestors are among those who have been attacked, and we must have empathy for the lives lost in this senseless war. 

Judaism is so important to me. More than any religious beliefs, it serves as my moral compass.  תִּיקּוּן עוֹלָם “Tikkun Olam” is Hebrew for “repairing the world,” and it’s the part of my identity as a Jewish person that I relish the most. As I’ve texted my friends to make sure they are okay, this belief has been at the front of my mind. It’s so hard to know what to do from thousands of miles away. I am conflicted about whether reposting something on Instagram or even donating money is meaningful, and I struggle to feel like I’m doing enough. Know that Tikkun Olam doesn’t have to be a big action. For me, it’s waking up every day and striving to do what I can to repair a world that is in desperate need. For some of us, Tikkun Olam may be donating money, or reposting something on Instagram. For others, it may be checking in on your friends and family or attending synagogue. This week has been exhausting, and I’ve found it imperative to take time for myself, to recognize that I am doing what I can, and find things that I am thankful for.

I am so grateful to be surrounded by my Jewish communities. My family and my Jewish friends who share my feelings have brought me immense comfort. I am eternally thankful for groups like Jewish Student Connection who are giving me space to react and to feel understood, and I appreciate that my school is trying to support my identity. I urge everyone to check in on those who are affected by this conflict. 

We are hurting and we are terrified. We have taken off our jewelry and cried for our people. We have been glued to our news screens and fear seeing someone we know’s name show up in a list of those missing or dead. I hate that I’ve been told to not look at the news. 

It’s a privilege to be separated from this war.

As we continue on with our lives,  I encourage everyone to lead with empathy and understand the nuance of this conflict. There is no justification for the killing of innocent people, and there is never justification for antisemitism.

This story was originally published on The Weekly on October 16, 2023.