Dear Jewish Students,
I write to you on a day that is not only Nov. 1, 2023, but also the 17th day of a month we used to call “Mar” Cheshvan—bitter because there are no holidays in it. NOW, the Jewish people have renamed the month RAM Cheshvan—High, Glorious, Confident, Mighty.
This is who YOU are, each of you connected to the wellsprings of truth in a world besotted by lies. I taught Chinese history at Wesleyan University in Connecticut for 40 years and more than a decade at Hebrew University. I lived in China, in France and Israel after being born and raised in Romania. My parents were survivors of the Shoah. Our neighbors had numbers on their arms. There was darkness around us because of the cruel communist regime, and darkness within, because of horrific memories and loss.
These shadows haunt some of us today, augmented by THE hatred YOU witness all around—not just the massacre and war in Israel. YOU are on the front lines of the war for the survival of the Jewish people. Each time you hold your head up high among the hate-mongers’ on your campus, you score a victory in this struggle. Why hold your head high, instead of slinking into fear, taking off your kippah, or stop going to Chabad and Hillel services so you won’t be noticed?
Because we are a unique people mandated to value life and truth at a time when Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah spawn murder and lies. They teach their children to kill. YOU stand for L’Chaim—for life! This is a huge and important soul mission. Each time you raise your voice in prayer (and I hope you do, because our holy soldiers in Israel need your support!), you are connecting to the Source of wellbeing. Each time you sing aloud on Shabbat, you are affirming the worthiness of the Light which Jews are mandated to embody—especially in our darkening days.
From Chinese friends and our Torah, I learned the importance of being attached to your own people, your Land. Stay strong. With blessings from Jerusalem,
Emerita Professor of East Asian Studies
Wesleyan University, CT.
Truman Institute, Hebrew University
PHOTO: Kolot GW
CAP: The entry gate at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.