What is Hamas and Why is it Taking Over my Life?

October 11, 2023
Sadie Freifeld

Merrick, New York, United States

Class of 2025

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Never in a million years did I think my first article for The Shofar would be as tragic as this one, but it's time to speak up. As you know by now, Hamas began its violent attacks on the State of Israel on the morning of Saturday, October 7. Thousands of rockets continue to be fired from the Gaza Strip into civilian areas, and at the time of my writing, there are reported 1,200 deaths, over 200 people including children, women, and elderly, kidnapped, and numerous accounts of rape. So, you might be wondering who Hamas is in the first place and why they are doing this. Well, I can totally relate to your confusion.

Hamas is a Palestinian terrorist group that was founded in the late 1980s. They're known for their strong/violent resistance against the Israeli state and its people and have been involved in tragic attacks in the region for a long time. For many, it's a subject that comes up frequently because of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but now it is more prominent than ever. At this time, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has declared a state of war amidst these unprecedented attacks. It's important to remember that not all Palestinians support Hamas, just like not all Israelis agree with their government's policies. This conflict is incredibly complex, with deep historical and political roots, and can sometimes feel overwhelming. At the end of the day, this war isn't about "land the Jews took away" or "Palestinians taking things too far."

It's easy to see now that we are fighting for the right not to have our children slaughtered in front of us, not to have our parents taken away from us, and to have the same basic human rights everyone else has.

Listen, you're not alone in trying to make sense of all this; it is incredibly difficult. The other day, I attended a large rally at my local temple to hear various Rabbis and speakers talk about our current "situation." Now, I'll try not to be crass, but a rabbi's sermon usually isn't quite the "crown jewel" of the service. They tend to be long and boring; it's the truth! Well, the other night, my perspective changed.

During one of the sermons at the rally, a rabbi said something that really stuck with me. He said, "איפה אתה" or "Where are you?" He told us that we should ask ourselves where we are in this battle. Are you silently observing, not saying anything in hopes of finding peace? Or are you on the front lines doing all you can, praying, writing, posting, and singing? It is you who decides where you are and how you fight. It can be as simple as re-posting a picture on your Instagram story. But silence, silence is never the answer. It's essential to keep learning, asking questions, and engaging in open, respectful discussions. It's also crucial to remember that you're not defined solely by this issue; your Jewish identity is much more than current conflicts. Stay curious and stay informed, but also remember that our generation has the potential to be part of positive change and peace in the future. It is in some of the darkest times that we need to be loud and voice our support for the millions of our brothers and sisters living and fighting in our homeland. Be the light they need because our eternal flame will never be dimmed. Am Yisrael Chai.

Sadie Freifeld is a BBG from the Nassau-Suffolk Region and has a dog named Biggie Smalls!

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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