We spend a lot of time writing about and pondering how the Organized Jewish Community doesn't work, but sometimes it works really well. Earlier today, I got an email from Ansche Chesed, by way of Brooklyn Jews, about a young man who went missing yesterday. You can find the text of the email posted on Jewschool. Two aspects of the email struck me, in particular. First, that New York Jewish community, which often appears dispersed and compartmentalized, is, in fact, interconnected, even across denominational (AC is Conservative, Rabbi Bachman is Reform) and borough (Manhattan, Brooklyn) lines. Second, that the email offered suggestions for prayer. In our arguments over doctrine and halakha, we forget that common texts unite us. In this case, the email suggested Psalm 63, Psalm 84, and a verse from Lamentations (Hashivenu Adonay eylekha ve’nashuva. Hadesh yameinu kekedem. Return us toward you God, and we will return home. Renew our days, as before.) The care to explain the content of these psalms, why they were chosen, and to offer a transliteration and translation of the Lamentations verse showed a sensitivity to the different access points of all the Jews affected by this news. The young man returned home safely earlier today and I received this email:
On behalf of Zach's family and our friends at Ansche Chesed, we thank
everyone for their concern.
Zach has returned home safely, thank God.
Kol Ha'Kavod** to all those who organized these efforts.
*Moadim L' Simchah: Hebrew, literally "times of gladness," used as a celebratory exclamation
**Kol Ha'Kavod: Hebrew, "all the respect," used for "good job"