It's hard not to get worn down by the steady stream of hate flooding our newsfeeds.
We're consumed by images and rhetoric in the media of human turmoil and strife—a world crying out for repair. Every day, we're reminded that we share a world with people whose evil knows no bounds. They hate us. They hate all humanity and civilization.
We, the Jewish people, in particular, are feeling the heat—but what else is new? The bad guys reject the values we hold dear—learning, light, love, and knowing that what matters most is the good (the acts of loving kindness) we do in the here and now.
We've seen violence recently against Jews in Belgium. France. Denmark. Argentina. Har Nof. Stabbings on Jerusalem buses. Swastikas in West Rogers Park. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement on campus, distorting the Israel narrative, including in February at my alma mater, Northwestern University. The threat of a nuclear Iran. The list goes on and on and on.
We know there are many people who want to see Israel—and, in fact, all Jews—wiped off the planet.
But for all the darkness and heartache, let's be mindful that we've been through worse. The Jewish people have survived thousands of years of combatting hatred, persecution, and tsuris—and we always make our way out of the dark and into the light.
For all the bad, we see hope too.
After the shootings in France and Denmark, a group of Muslims encircled a synagogue in Oslo, Norway, on Shabbat, creating a "ring of peace," protesting anti-Semitism and violence against the Jewish people.
I heard from Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a Hamas founder, at the recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. After growing up in Hamas, Yousef left the family business to work undercover for the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, where he forged a deep friendship with his Shin Bet handler along the way. The information Yousef gave to the Shin Bet exposed Hamas cells, prevented suicide bombings and assassinations of Israelis, and helped Israel track down militants.
The subject of a recent documentary, The Green Prince, and author of the autobiography, Son of Hamas, Yousef—who has relocated to the United States and cut off ties with his family back in Ramallah—embodies a gentle, beautiful soul. He told us that he believes in loving people, no matter where they come from.
Yousef's story shook me to my core. When we're born, we all start off innocent. But then we learn either to love or to hate. It horrifies me when I see images of small children of terrorists bearing weapons and following their parents down paths of violence and destruction. Changing their hearts and minds, breaking that cycle of hate, is nearly impossible. And yet, Yousef chose the path of love.
It's people like him who give us a ray of hope that one day we will live in peace.
Jews in Chicago, in Jerusalem, and around the world have been sitting down for Passover seders. Right now, as in so many other times in Jewish history, the plagues of hate, evil, and violence occupy our thoughts, along with frogs, hail, and pestilence.
"In every generation," we read on Pesach, "they rise up against us to destroy us."
Pharaoh tried. Hitler tried. And most recently, in France, in Denmark, and in many other places around the world, evil people keep on trying.
But they will never destroy us. They will never break our spirit—they will never break us.
Am Yisrael chai!