By Doni Joszef, LMSW

Jews fight. And Jews unite.

These are the two things we do best. And they’re the two things we do most.

Can a teenage girl wear tefillin? We debate; we attack; we divide; we deride.

Should yeshiva students be exempt from Israeli army service? We debate; we attack; we divide; we deride.

A journalist’s son goes missing for days. We gather; we pray; we cry; we unite.

Three Jewish boys are kidnapped by terrorists. We gather; we pray; we cry; we unite.

Politics divide us. Pain unites us.

Why? Because politics tug at the mind. And pain tugs at the heart.

The mind is divisive. The heart is expansive.

The mind judges. The heart empathizes.

The mind looks for points of contention. The heart longs for peace and compassion.

Outsiders looking in often wonder why Jews are so identified with suffering. Why are we so obsessed with tragedy and turmoil? The sad but simple truth is that pain tends to bring out the best in us. Pain is what melts away the petty politics and bonds the hitherto burnt bridges.

It’s what reminds us that we’re all in this together, no matter how fractured and fragmented we often appear.

Divided we fight. United we pray.

Divided we fall. United we stand. v

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