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Let’s Be Joyful

It may seem strange for me to urge you to be joyful now, but it’s necessary.
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March 20, 2024
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I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent the last few weeks in a fog, feeling hopeless about the situation in Israel, about the antisemitism at home and abroad, and wondering when this will end. 

Checking the headlines and social media every day, it just seems more and more depressing. From finding out that hostages were killed to seeing Jews turn their backs on the community and witnessing Jewish students being assaulted on campus, it seems like we’re in a perpetual loop of bad news.

With Purim just days away, we are commanded to be joyful. How can we be b’simcha at a time when it seems like there isn’t much to be happy about?

I recently spoke to a Jewish person who told me that she wasn’t a believer before Oct. 7, and that day cemented her feeling that there is no God, because if there was, He wouldn’t have let Oct. 7 happen.

I completely disagree with that sentiment. While I understand how difficult it was to witness that horrible day, and how you could come to that conclusion, I believe it’s wrong. What she said made me realize how I – and the entire Jewish community – can approach these dark times.

Before Oct.  7, there was the Holocaust, the pogroms, the Inquisition, the destruction of the temples and all the other terrible things that happened to Jews throughout history. I knew that antisemitism always existed; sometimes it was clear, and other times it was festering below the surface, ready to emerge at an opportune time like now.

Despite all the misfortune the Jewish people have experienced, we have survived – and thrived. How did we do it? By being hopeful and finding ways to be joyous. 

If the Jewish people had decided to focus solely on their pain and all the bad things that happened to them, we wouldn’t exist today. Studying the history of our people gives me so much hope.

Take Purim, a time when it looked like Haman’s evil plan was going to come to fruition. Esther and Mordecai didn’t give up, even though Esther certainly felt like it at first. 

Take Purim, a time when it looked like Haman’s evil plan was going to come to fruition and we were going to be annihilated. Esther and Mordecai didn’t give up, even though Esther certainly felt like it at first. With Mordecai’s encouragement, she garnered the strength to step up and save her people. 

Oftentimes, as we see, it’s darkest before the dawn, and it’s not easy to stay hopeful in these moments. But this is when it matters the most. This is when we can strengthen our own connection to Hashem, building upon our emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust).

But how? 

First, do what I do when I’m feeling down, and make a list of everything you’re grateful for in your life. Your health, the roof over your head, the clothes in your closet and the food in your fridge cannot be taken for granted.

Instead of reading the same sad headlines every day, look for stories that fill you with hope. There are countless volunteers going to Israel to help the country recover. Jews from all walks of life are united now more than ever. We have been able to fight back and win, like on college campuses, where we are holding universities accountable for their actions and demanding they protect Jewish students. The polls say that most people are on our side. We are defeating Hamas. 

There is so much more love in the world than hate. Most people are good; the small minority of haters may be the loudest, but they hold fringe views that most people don’t support. So many people have stood up and showed their love for us, even though they aren’t Jewish. They can see the truth.

It may seem strange for me to urge you to be joyful now, but it’s necessary. It’s what is going to get us through this dark period. It’s going to ensure that just like always, we will come out victorious and stronger than ever before. 

Have you been able to find joy lately? Email me: Kylieol@JewishJournal.com.


Kylie Ora Lobell is the Community Editor of the Jewish Journal.

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