Dear Friend of Israel,
We live in a troubled world. The evidence is all around us: Syria’s brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad, uses chemical weapons on his own people. ISIS claims responsibility for another bombing in Afghanistan. Closer to home, a gunman murders four people at a Waffle House restaurant near Nashville. And the list could go on – no corner of the world is immune.
As violence and suffering seem to have no end, it is easy to lose hope. But this brings to my mind an old Jewish saying: “All the people of Israel are responsible for one another.”
Though it comes from a Jewish context, the saying applies universally: All of us are responsible for each other. This means that, faced with those who would sow chaos, fear, and pain, we must sow hope, making ourselves responsible for doing good for our families, our churches and synagogues, our communities, and our world.
We can begin with the smallest of things. We can be the ones who say “hello” and “thank you” to the waitress at the restaurant, to the policeman directing traffic, to the people we encounter every day. One simple act of kindness just might turn someone’s bad day into a good day, and give that person the will to extend kindness to others.
This may not bring about world peace or lead to a world free of suffering. But it will bring a measure of peace into our hearts, and allow us to share that peace with others. And if we direct our lives toward that goal, we can say honestly that we did the best we could to end anger and hatred by bringing, even in some small way, some love and understanding into the world.
As people of faith, it is our particular responsibility to try to change the environment we live in to one of kindness, hope, and love, by taking responsibility for each other. When we take our role as agents of change seriously, we are taking one step closer to realizing the Jewish concept of tikkun olam – “repairing the world” – and that, my friends, is desperately needed right now.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President