About Peoplehood and Resilience

A reflection from Abraham Belilty, Federation Shaliach (Israeli emissary) to Shaare Torah

As we approach the time to commemorate the lives lost on Yom Hazikaron (Israeli National Remembrance Day) and celebrate Yom Haazmaut (Israeli Independence Day), finding words to encapsulate my feelings is a daunting task. Emotions surrounding these days are always intense, but this year, being my 3rd time away from Israel as an adult during these commemorations, those feelings are magnified even further. The distance seems to amplify everything, making this year’s emotions unprecedented in their intensity.

The aftermath of October 7th left me grappling with feelings of anger and frustration I had never encountered before. But, in the midst of this emotional turmoil, I discovered the true meaning of community support. The comfort it brought was something entirely new to me, highlighting a spectrum of feelings – vibrant, noticeable, and all-consuming.

This revelation makes me anticipate the emotional torrent that the upcoming national holidays will bring. I am preparing myself for the resurgence of pain for those I have lost, acknowledging the difficulty of sharing their memory with my community. Despite this, I know celebrating Israel is not just a choice but a necessity — a right thing to do alongside my community.

What I am most thankful for today is the realization that I am not alone in this emotional journey. Our community – Jewish Greater Washington – has shown incredible resilience, guiding me through my grief and helping me see glimpses of hope. We are, inherently, a people of hope, always looking forward and creating beams of light for us to follow.

As we prepare to celebrate Israel’s 76th Independence Day, we commemorate our friends and relatives lost to terror attacks and acts of war, hoping to honor the blessings they have brought into this world.

At a time when it feels like the tide of global sentiment is turning against us, with hate seemingly overwhelming, I find pride in belonging to a community that knows the best way to combat hate is with hope, and darkness with light.

The help of congregants and their amazing generosity has shown me how resilient the Jewish people are. The relationships made through the journey of a couple of duffle bags from here to Israel with supplies – the amazing connections between Jewish people – showed me the true power of Jewish peoplehood.