Today (October 11, 2011) it was reported that Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit would be released from Hamas custody. To many who are unfamiliar with this story this may seem insignificant, but to members of the Jewish community this day will be celebrated for years to come because of the identity that Jews share not only with Gilad but also each other.
Gilad Shalit had been captured by Hamas, and he had been kept in prison since 2006. Numerous efforts have been made by the Israeli government to free him. People had held vigils, created petitions, and made videos. Gilad became the Jewish face of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Until today none of these efforts to free him had been successful.
The Jewish people have been persecuted many different times throughout their history: The Romans, The Russian Pogroms, and The Holocaust. I believe that this has created a sense of unity among the Jewish people. As Jews we identify with those who came before us. It is my opinion that Jews identify themselves with a greater Jewish nation. There is a famous Hebrew saying “Kol Yisrael averim zeh ba-zeh,” which translates to “all Jews are responsible for one another.” Jews believe that it is their job to help a fellow Jew in need. Today, that Jew in need finally received his freedom.
This is why I believe that the release of Gilad Shalit is being widely celebrated. As I Jew I believe that I identify not only with Jews in America but Jews around the world because we share the common bond of religion. Since the announcement of Shalit’s release over 30 of my friends on Facebook have posted on the subject. Friends of mine are posting comments such as: “Welcome Home Giald!” and “Great Day for Israel!”
I have a great deal of pride for my religion. During the summer I work at Jewish summer camp. I have learned about the story of Gilad Shalit through Hebrew school and through camp. This summer my fellow counselors and I held a seminar for the campers. We explained to them the story of Gilad Shalit and how we hoped that one day he would be freed. On campus at Michigan I am involved in Hillel, and I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to visit Israel I identify very strongly with my Jewish heritage, so when an occasion like this comes around, I cannot resist the urge to celebrate. Even though I and most American Jews do not know Gilad personally, many of us feel that we just got our friend back. I believe that this outpouring of joy is evidence of the strength of the Jewish identity among Jewish people.
Gilad’s freedom did not come at no cost to Israel, they will have to release 1,000 Palestinian militants. I think that this is a remarkable showing of Israel’s solidarity and pride. By looking at this move, it seems that Israel would be willing to do anything just to see one of its own released. I agree with what Israel did, but does anyone think that the trade of 1000 for 1 was not worth it?