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Support for Jews across America

November 5, 2018 | by Emuna Braverman

If this stranger believes that we enrich this country, I better get down to work and make sure that her words ring true.

My husband and I were having breakfast in a hotel this week when a woman we didn’t know approached us. “I’m Fran,” she said. “And that’s my husband Philip. We’re from Seattle.”

I nodded encouragingly.

“We just want you to know that we would give up all our resources for you. We would lay down our lives. You enrich us all.”

We murmured thank you as our tears dropped onto our Cheerios. I only hope that our behavior – and that of our people – lives up to their imaginings.

I’ve definitely been heartened by the show of support for Jews across the country and across the spectrum of American people. But I’ve also been sobered. When people offer condolences, I can just murmur thank you and be appreciative of their consideration. But when they add a comment about the contribution of the Jewish people to their lives, then I have to stop and think.

Frequently my thoughts lead me to a line from an 8th day song, “Avraham, are we the children that you dreamed of?” Are we living up to your legacy, do we merit all your sacrifice? Are we really enriching the world around us?

It should make us all stop and think. It should make us all examine our actions. If that woman who approached us at breakfast followed me throughout the day, would she stick by her statement? Would I be a suitable role model? Was I polite to the waiter and did I say thank you to the valet? Was I friendly and patient when the barista at my local coffee shop was clearly in training? How did I treat the waiter when my order was served raw?

How do I treat guests in my home? Am I considerate of their needs – even if they don’t eat meat, citrus, eggs, nuts, tomatoes and anything with flavor? Do I follow the admonition of Jewish law not to correct a guest (obviously that makes them uncomfortable) even if I think the point they are making is incorrect? Do I deftly steer the conversation away from charged political topics?

And what if she were allowed a more intimate glimpse of my life? Did I snap at my husband in a moment of frustration or did I just smile encouragingly? (Let’s be honest here.) What about with my children? Was I the model of patience or something else…? Was I encouraging or did I throw up my hands in disgust? This list could be endless.

And on the deepest level, does my response to life’s challenges reflect a trust in God, a recognition that it is all good, that everything is from Him and an opportunity to grow and connect? Or would she be privy to some self-pity, some whining, some “it’s not fair” and some “why me?”

I was definitely moved by the show of support from this stranger – and from strangers across the country. But it forced me to seriously reflect. If she believes that we enrich this country, I better get down to work and make sure that her words ring true.


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