The NCSY flame has always represented a lot to me: a rekindling of Judaism, a legendary Havdala, a flicker of identity. But now, it has begun to represent something more.
After seeing the Jewish world called upon to light three extra candles every shabbat until the three kidnapped boys of Gush Etzion are found, I felt a new identification with what a flame really is. Then, seeing the NCSY spearhead a rally for the boys on June 22nd at the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan, I saw that flame built even more. I saw a unification of many different Jewish groups, groups that often don’t even see eye to eye on many issues, to a common cause, a cause of responsibility to one’s Jewish brother. These groups included, Bnei Akiva, B’nei B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO), Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, Touro College, Birthright Alumni Community NY, Young Judea, The Jewish Agency, MEOR, Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, NFTY and ROOTS, OU’s NextGen division and its Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC). Teen leaders of the organizations spoke throughout the rally. Even the Israeli mission now to rescue the boys is called “Operation My Brother’s Keeper,” built from the statement Kayin said about Hevel back in Sefer Bereishit. To see the Jewish people unite like this is something that doesn’t happen often. Therefore, in this hard time, I feel a sense of pride in my generation and an even greater increase in my hope in the future one.
“Even though we [Jews] are sometimes separated and disagree on many things, when it comes down to real things, like the lives of our Jewish people, we come together as a nation, and that is something and that is really really beautiful,” a participant of the rally advocated from the podium in front of the Israeli Consulate on June 22nd.
Another continued, “Hamas taking three students so that they could get terrorists back. Three hundred Nigerian girls so that the terrorist organization can get power. These are injustices and we must stop it. We must be the change.”
To witness this immense care for our captured brethren 6,000 miles away is to see something remarkable. But to see the rally additionally focus on the plights of others was even greater. The rally highlighted the plight of children and teenagers everywhere child soldiers in Africa, human trafficking victims in Asia, and the more than 200 girls kidnapped by an Islamic terror group in Nigeria more than a month ago, along with the plight of Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19. What a kiddush hashem to show the world that even while Jews are the recipients of the most recent string of injustices, we still care to right the rest of the world. Mi k’amcha yisrael.
So, today, the flame represents much more to me. It represents the unifying force and push NCSY has become over the Jewish people. It represents NCSY’s strength and influence over the Jewish community, especially its youth. And, it represents the flickers of hope such a unifying force can portray in darkness. Until every last child is home.