To My Dear Childhood Friend

In an era when the entire world has become a global village, even though we sit on two sides of the ocean we are all using the same information, are exposed to the same spins, and rely on the same sources, for better or for worse. We really do not have anything new to say to each other.

That’s true. Almost.

Because the heart that loves and the heart that listens, the heart that rejoices and the heart that sings, the heart that breaks and the heart that wonders is also the heart that speaks, that innovates, that shares happiness and pain. And the heart inside each of us, that makes us into what we are, has a language of its own — the language of the heart defines our essence, connects us one to another, and transforms us from a collection of good people to “one man with one heart.”

And that is the language that I would like to speak to you in today, my dear friend, heart to heart.

Eretz Yisrael is the heart of our nation, the source of its life. When the heart suffers, the entire body suffers. Shlomo Hamelech says, “Guard your heart carefully ….”

My dear brother, we are in the throes of a “heart attack.”

Yes, our collective heart, Eretz Yisrael, is under attack. As you know, a coalition rose to power last year in Yerushalayim whose daily fare is hatred of Torah, loathing for Jewish tradition, and open incitement against those who observe Torah and mitzvos. This government talks about equality but practices discrimination, preaches democracy but practices racism. Its priority is the “remodeling” of the land and the nation that lives in it. Mesores Yisrael has never before been trampled in public like this by Jews.

It’s painful to say it, but if these people would not have found partners in the members of a “religious” party, who are abetting the destruction of everything dear to us in exchange for illusory power, this storm would not be buffeting us.

To our shame and regret, at first we were complacent. When they incited we said, “It’s for the elections.” When they boycotted us we said, “It’s only coalition negotiations.” Even when we already saw the writing on the wall we said, “this too shall pass. Things like this have happened before. We’ll talk, we’ll work, and we’ll figure things out. In the end those people will open their eyes and understand. It’s impossible that they really mean to do this, to uproot everything.”

But they do. They aren’t just talking, they have taken action. Every plan drafted in the last generation to destroy the Jewish character of the state has suddenly been resurrected and implemented.

Chapter after chapter, clause after clause. The minimum — marriage laws that were the last barrier against splitting our nation in two — is being undermined. Conversion. Making Shmittah observance impossible. Inclusion of the Reform movement — which gets “credit” for reducing the size of the Jewish nation by a third — in education and the Rabbinate. Interference in curriculum content. Forced conscription to the army. The destruction of the Torah world and the institution of the Rabbinate by hostile legislation. All this is being done with force, and then some more force.

Cutbacks in salaries, in teaching positions, in welfare stipends, in subsidies for schools, chadarim, yeshivos and students, both Israeli and foreign. Economic and criminal sanctions. And there’s more to come.

Our askanim and emissaries have tried lobbying, forging contacts, pleading — and it was all for naught. There’s no one to talk to. This government does everything with evil determination. This isn’t another wave, this is the real storm.

The heart of the nation is being battered — over and over again. The land of our fathers, Eretz Ha’avos, is truly becoming Eretz Tal’uvos, the land of suffering.

My friend, you know all these things as well as I do, as those around you know it. But the difference between knowing and feeling is the distance between complacency and action. We may need something big to shake us out of our complacency and despair, to cause us to feel with every fiber of our souls the pain of the Torah and the angst of the Jewish children; something that will galvanize us to action.

We have merited this. At this time, Gedolei Yisrael who guide hundreds of thousands of people, carrying the burden of the generation on their shoulders, are setting everything aside to come and tell the Jews of the world — not through an emissary or in writing — the story of the threat to the Holy Land, and to tell us all in a voice that is loud and clear that something can still be done, the Torah can still be salvaged, and that it is in your hands.

There are moments in the life of a nation when its sons rise above sectarian considerations, set aside communal strife and differences, and let  “together” encompass everyone. A time of war is a time of unity for every nation that seeks to survive.

We in Eretz Yisrael are in the front lines of a war that has been forced upon us, the battle for Jewish existence here. We are doing everything we can, but we need YOU in order to be able to live in Eretz Yisrael as Jews. If you will be with us, shoulder-to- shoulder, perhaps Hashem will have mercy on His nation and His land.

And you ask, my dear friend —  as I would be asking in your place — what can I do?

The truth is that everyone can do something. Everyone has family, friends, work colleagues, acquaintances, and direct and indirect ties. Please talk, explain, do everything possible to persuade more and more people to protest on our behalf. Every shred of pressure can be effective.

If each person contributes his share, public pressure will be aimed at the decision-makers in this hate-mongering government. When they are given to understand that their actions have a price, that  what they are doing might damage their image with the heretofore generous public, perhaps they will think again about this rampage. One stone and another, one brick after another, can build the hoped-for dam that will stop this flood of hatred and destruction.

We here firmly believe that if our Jewish souls would be solely and uncompromisingly invested, if our Jewish hearts would beat together, if all of us, on both sides of the ocean, would wake up each morning committed to doing what we didn’t do yesterday, we will prevail. And from this difficult experience, we will emerge stronger and more unified.

Your Israeli friend, a step-child in the land of his forefathers,

Daniel Friedensohn