We lost three teenagers today, Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel…Baruch Dayan HaEmet…Blessed is the Righteous Judge…
In the tremendous tragedy of the loss of such young teenage lives, I am left wondering if many of our Jewish teenagers in America are truly aware of what happened. Or care.
This is truly a painful question to ask.
Yehi zichronam baruch—May their memories be for a blessing…our hearts go out to their families and friends for the pain that must feel like it will never, ever end.
For some of us, this loss is felt quite deeply, as if our own family was torn apart.
But what of our teenagers here in America? Is there a similar feeling among our teens that their peers are feeling in Israel?
We don’t want our children to ever experience pain, but Israel’s similar wishes for their teenagers already passed that point.
There’s loss woven into the entire fabric of the country.
Do American Jewish teens have a special feeling for the collective Jewish family?
Do they feel connected in any way with other Jews around the world?
I fear that they don’t.
The world is made smaller via internet, so we should be more connected, not less.
But I know that this is not true.
This was not an active topic on social media, where our teens tend to live.
In fact, the absence of sharing about the loss of these three teens on twitter was gaping. Likewise elsewhere.
Why is it so different for our teens today? How can we work on making them feel more connected to the Jewish family as a whole?
Do we need to wait for birthright and Pilgrimage trips for this to happen?
This tragedy occurred when our teens are busy with their own lives. They are not in our weekly programs when we can discuss this with them, debrief our communal pain, and talk about the sense and senselessness in life.
For teens who are by now at Jewish camps, they will have a collective community in which to share their grief.
For other Jewish American teens who are not so connected, they hopefully will have conversations in their homes and synagogues.
But I also know that the reverse may happen…that this tragedy will be lost amidst the shuffle of every day life.
The question worth repeating here is how can we help our Jewish teens feel more part of K’lal Yisrael, part of the Jewish family?
If we first stop to ask this question of ourselves, our efforts will be more meaningful for the future.
Let’s work toward this goal.