Today, we take a break from our usual Jewbellishments and laughter to mourn the loss of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad. Our president, Mendy Pellin, wrote this short essay on why he cried and the lesson we should all learn. (We look forward to continue sharing laughs together with our all-new Jewbellish season coming soon.)
Why This Comedian Cried
by Mendy Pellin
What was it about Eyal, Naftali and Gilad that made countless people cry around the world upon hearing of their murder? Unfortunately, I’ve read many news stories of young soldiers patrolling in the West Bank or Gaza that were killed by terrorists. That made me sad. This made me cry. Why?
When I was 18, I toured Israel on a birthright trip. Out of 120 people, I was the only ‘hareidi’ on the trip.
Throughout the trip I became very friendly with Yigal, our Israeli tour guide. I was pretty surprised when he ‘educated’ our bus on the different kind of Jews living in Israel.
When he got to the hareidim, he said that “they are bad for Israeli society because they keep to themselves and live off the government without giving anything back…” Then he continued: “…and the worst kind of hareidim are Chabad. Because they don’t keep to themselves, they go out and take young men and women away from their families and brainwash them. For many families it’s like losing a child.”
After his insightful lesson, I revealed to him that I was part of the ‘worst hareidim’ – Chabad.
His reply: “Mendy, you’re different. You’re… Mendy! I love you!” He did love me. We had a great time on the trip.
I asked him if ever had a Chabad friends. He never had.
I challenged him to pick any Chabadnik and get to know him or her. I told him: “you’ll see that he is also different. He’s… Shmuli. Then get to know another. You’ll see that she’s also different. She’s… Mushkie. And you’ll love them too.”
The reason why I cried today is because over the last 18 days, I’ve gotten to know Eyal, Naftali and Gilad. I’ve seen pictures, watched videos and even learned what sport and instrument they loved. We’ve all got to know them for there innocence and goodness.
These last few weeks have seen secular and hareidi Jews praying and singing alongside each other to bring our boys back home safely. We looked past our differences and focused on our essence.
Growing up, there was one person I knew that was able to look at the essence of everyone he met. To him, we were all equal. We all deserved love and respect from our fellow and our Creator. He’s the Chabad Rebbe and today is his 20th Yartzeit.
If there is one resolution we should make today in memory of our boys that never made it home, it’s to get to really know the person you are uncomfortable with. Focus on their essence. Take the amazing strength that the Rebbe gave to this world to love your fellow as yourself.
Break from Comedy: A video Mendy wrote and directed about the plight of the people in Israel: