Light in Times of Darkness

Ben Avrum Jerusalemby Lynn Schusterman

As I sit on my balcony in Jerusalem, looking out over the “city of peace” just before the start of Shabbat, I am filled with both pain and hope – the pain of witnessing yet another senseless conflict and the hope for a better future I take from the acts of humanity and solidarity of the remarkably resilient people I see all around me.

Like everyone here, I have been following the news closely, wishing that Israel was not called upon to defend itself once again and that families were not forced to mourn their children.

And yet, even in these trying times, I am determined to focus on helping others find the rays of inspiration and caring that will shine light in the darkness.

I find hope in the stories of families, struck by incomprehensible tragedy, buoyed by the support of the global Jewish community coming together to grieve for their sons. I find hope in the heroism of volunteers working tirelessly to ensure the safety of friends and neighbors and to care for children in bomb shelters. I find hope in people crossing religious and national bounds to show the world that what unites us as people is stronger than what divides us.

In these stories, I see why time and again we continue to believe that we as people can be better, that we as people can do better and that we as a people will ensure that tomorrow IS better.

For many of us who have had the great opportunity to travel to Israel and speak with Israelis and Arabs, we know that the majority yearn to live in peace and are prepared to sacrifice for it. We know that the conflict inflicts pain on everyone in the region in ways large and small.

In times like these, it is especially important that the people of Israel, and all peace-loving people in the region, know we stand with them, that their fate is our fate, that we care about them, that we are mourning with them and, importantly, that we believe in them and in their quest for peace.

That is why I traveled to Israel this week to join our team here and to show solidarity and support in this time of distress. While I am here, I am meeting with so many young people – artists, innovators, educators, activists – who believe that we can transcend religious and political divides to achieve our vision of a better world. These young people give me hope for the future. They give me hope for peace.

I know that Israel will continue to face grave challenges. Like all of you, I am worried about what this latest conflict means for Israel’s continued quest for peace and security at home and legitimacy abroad. I am worried about the growing divide within Israel’s borders and also about the tenor of discourse taking place in the media and online. I am worried about the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish vitriol and vilification rearing its head in rallies around the world.

But I know too that, just as we have in the past, our global Jewish family will continue to embrace each other, to strengthen each other and to do our part to help Israel survive, thrive and fulfill its calling as a light unto the nations.

For anyone who has ever camped in the Negev or hiked Masada before sunrise, you know that the darker the sky, the brighter the stars. In this time of darkness, may we each be a powerful source of light, strength and peace.

Shabbat Shalom.

cross-posted on Blog

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  1. Sara says

    In the 6th paragraph you write, “… many of us who have had the great opportunity to travel to Israel and speak with Israelis and Arabs, we know that the majority yearn to live in peace and are prepared to sacrifice for it.” This is confusing — 20% of Israelis are Arabs/Palestinians. Are these the people you mean (i.e. you have spoken to Israelis Jews and Israeli Palestinians) or are you referring to Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation?

    BTW, one thing that would help to bring about peace is to allow more informed and open conversations at Hillel’s across the USA about how to end the occupation.

  2. Anonymous Fan says

    Dear Mrs. Lynn Schusterman,

    We love you!

    Thank you so much for supporting all the wonderful things you do to help strengthen the future of American Jewry. It was wonderful for you to come to Israel to show your support at this time.

    Every generation has it’s challenges. People don’t like to compare Antisemitism to Assimilation as they are opposites but the fact is we have lost millions of Jews to both.

    I doubt everyone reading this blog realizes that you are one of the most important people walking the planet earth regarding helping to ensure a strong future for the Jewish people.

    You are my hero.

    Thanks for being a major supporter to BBYO, Birthright, Repair the World, Hillel, PEJE Foundation for Jewish Camp, ROI and the list goes on and on!

    Thank you!

    God Bless you!

    May you and your family be blessed with good health, long life, success and much happiness.
    Anonymous Fan – one of many! All of us in the American Jewish community are truly grateful for all of your wonderful, generous and warm support!

  3. says

    Beautifully written. Unfortunately, there will be some amongst those, like the first commentator, who may purport to love Israel but could care less about the timing of their political machinations. Your confusion, Sara, is a mask for your distorted understanding of the Palestinian as victim. They are victims, of course, but of their own choices. As for Lynn Shusterman, keep writing. You have something to say that is worth hearing.

  4. Eric Fingerhut says

    Thank you Lynn for this beautiful Shabbat message. I traveled to Israel just a week ago to be with our Hillel professionals and students who are studying, working and traveling there this summer. They all understood, as you so well articulate, that all Jews need to stand side by side with Israel at this critical moment and also to help address the many humanitarian and social needs that the war creates for all people. We are proud to be partners with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation in this endeavor, and even prouder that you are the kind and generous face and voice supporting the next generation of Jewish leaders all over the world.

    Praying for safety and peace for Israel and the whole world.

    Eric Fingerhut

  5. Laura Cutler says

    Lynn thank you for being in Israel to support our homeland at this dark hour. Thank you for continuing to embrace the dreams and idealism of the young (and young at heart) – dreams where the values that unite the Jewish people are stronger than the self-righteous convictions that seek to divide and destroy us. Perhaps you are able to maintain this optimism due to your partnership with so many wonderful Jewish non-profits like BBYO whose young members tap into the joy of being Jewish and the Jewish values that speak to their desire to build a better world. Laura Cutler