With the vicious uproar of anti-Semitism and terrorism overseas, many have been affected physically and emotionally. We see more media coverage of Israel-related content than any other (arguably) more atrocious event occurring in the world. Why is this disproportionality of hatred and attention directed toward Israel?
The answer’s easy, and rhymes with: “Because we’re Jews.”
We have difficulty understanding this animosity, and struggle further when asking, “What can I do to help?”
We hear “donations needed” and “financial aid requested.” Well, tzedakah is an amazing first step in helping our brethren.
Contributing the appropriate amount per-individual shouldn’t be a quantity with which we’re immediately complacent. If one writes a check, sends it to their targeted organizational campaign, and never thinks about it again, they probably could’ve given more.
If we have to think about or second-guess the quantity, that’s a recognizable indication that we’re likely providing what’s appropriate relative to our individual funds.
Donating and attending rallies are great actions toward aiding others. However, not everybody has the capacity to give a tangible, exponentially significant gift they feel has the impact for which they strive, nor a quantity they feel represents their passion to support a cause.
Some can’t give at all.
As such, many search for alternative measures of Tikkun Olam.
Fortunately, the High Holidays are swiftly approaching, presenting an opportunity for rich and poor to participate in giving tzedakah. This approach doesn’t necessitate checks written or credit cards swiped. It requires thinking about the things you want to happen in the world. Whether your thoughts are for yourself, a stranger, a nation or Hashem, the gift of thought has greater power than we can comprehend.
This concept of “thought” might sound awfully similar to “prayer.” “Prayer” doesn’t necessarily resonate with everybody. Some don’t know what they’re praying to or for. Many wouldn’t know where to begin if told to “pray.” However, we’ve all “thought” at some point or another in life. We understand the feelings and emotions evoked from a solitary moment of thought.
If told to visit the park and think, you could probably manage to do it. Maybe you’d have no idea what to think about, but that itself is a thought.
The location in which these thoughts occur isn’t pertinent to the success of said process. So why not bring one’s meditative state or thoughts to a community that likely has similar values, and perhaps comparable thoughts? Simply attending a like-minded community provides an opportunity to bequeath our cerebration unto others, perhaps expanding upon our own preconceived ideas.
This approach to Tikkun Olam may seem indirect, as personal thoughts may not be physically heard by those to whom we direct them. However, it’s virtually impossible to quantify the effect of prayer or thought.
Considering that action (tzedakah or fighting a war) is often seen as more effective than thought, it may be of importance to note that thoughts create actions, and the effects of action may never even occur without the opportunity to think.
The opportunity to attend a synagogue for the holidays, join a thriving Jewish Community, and make your thoughts heard is readily available in Orange County! During the High Holidays, discounted or free options by local organizations are offered to young adults and families, and these organizations welcome newcomers with open arms.
NextGen is pleased to offer free or reduced-cost High Holiday tickets at participating congregations. Search: tiny.cc/2014OCHighHolidays. Also check JewGlue, JYA, and Moishe House for holiday events.
The Jewish people have exemplified the definition of strength for thousands of years. We have persevered and must remain united through difficult times. We will survive, even with something as simple as “thought.”
Adam Chester focuses his work on the GenY demographic as both the NextGen Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for Jewish Federation & Family Services and contributing writer to JLife magazine.