A Time for Unity and Prayer

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 לך כנוס את כל היהודים 

“Go and gather together all of the Jewish people.” (Megillat Esther 4:16) 

Queen Esther brought on the miracle of Purim by calling upon the Jewish people to overcome their differences and come together to fast and pray to G-d for their future. That call needs to be repeated as we face heightened internal strife and daily physical attacks from our enemies.   

Every Jew is a member of our immediate family, and every loss is experienced by each of us as a personal blow. The death of Elan Ganeles strikes especially close as he was a member of the American Jewish community, an alumnus of the Orthodox Union’s NCSY youth movement and an active participant in OU-JLIC’s community at Columbia University. Our hearts and prayers are with his loving family and many dear friends, wishing them comfort and healing for their broken hearts. 

Elan was brutally murdered one day following the killings of the brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv. We mourn these losses deeply and we look to all who stand for life and decency to raise their voices in clear condemnation of these despicable murders. Just as Jewish and Israeli leaders across the political and religious spectrum unequivocally condemned the violence committed by Jews in Huwara, we must expect and demand no less of Palestinian and Muslim leadership. That is the only path to peace.  

Rambam (Maimonides) taught that the festival of Purim was instituted as a monument to the effectiveness of the Jewish community coming together in prayer and its power to elicit G-d’s favorable response. As we approach Taanit Esther and Purim, we will benefit greatly from our own reenactment of that story, recommitting to each other and gathering as a community in sincere prayer for a future of peace both within our own ranks and beyond.