As we enter the "nine days" of the month of Av, Jews around the world remember the events of this time almost 2,000 years ago, when Jerusalem was destroyed (in 70 CE), the Temple was razed to the ground and the city's population massacred or exiled.
In "Palestine" (the name given by Rome to the newly-conquered Judea), reactions to the trauma were diverse. With anti-Roman sentiment at its height, some Jewish revolutionaries continued their resistance until the fall of Masada in 74 CE, some fled to the Diaspora or underground to nurture hopes of a future uprising. In an air of despair and abandonment, others became ascetics. Even Jews who dwelled in the Holy Land outside of Jerusalem and weren't affected much physically by the Jewish revolt and its aftermath surely felt the ripple effect of emotional shock brought on by the morale and confidence of a nation badly damaged.
Meanwhile in the Jewish Diaspora, in the communities of Alexandria, Damascus, Babylon, Cyprus, Antioch, and many more, without an active role or stake in the revolt, it was business as usual. Cut off from life in the Holy Land, by 70 CE Jews around the ancient Roman world were well integrated into their host countries, serving a variety of economic roles. Meanwhile, due to their large numbers and economic influence, Rome had long granted Diaspora Jews religious tolerance and the right to maintain their own organizations, administration and judiciary. Instead of, in the face of persecution, idealistically clinging to the national character of Jewish tradition, as symbolized by Jerusalem and the Temple, they were busy developing their own independent identity in their own mode of worship.
In short, in the ancient Jewish Diaspora, far away and disconnected from their Land, even for those who held onto a national identity, what could they really do to help when the revolt, and subsequent destruction, took place?
Fast forward to today, the Jewish people in the Land of Israel are once again fighting for their survival, and there are obvious parallels regarding the circumstances describing the ancient Jewish Diaspora to the current modern day version. However, in the information age of the 21 century, the world is connected like never before, and Diaspora Jewry can actually play a very active role in what is happening in their ancient national homeland. In fact, the world wide Jewish unity we are witnessing today in the face of another existential threat is a major tikkun (spiritual fix) for the sinat chinam (baseless hatred) that originally led to the Second Temple's destruction. So what can you do? Here are three ideas:
1) Donate to IDF Soldiers: One of the best ways to contribute to the IDF war against terror is by helping keep the morale of soldiers up in the face of the fear and stress of war. Organizations such as LIBI or FIDF provide educational, religious, medical and recreational needs to Israeli soldiers. Over the last few weeks, they have been working around the clock to receive, scan, and ship gift packages donated from all over the world to the soldiers currently serving in Gaza.
2) Hasbara: Today, while much of the "official" Hasbara work is carried out through non-governmental organizations such as Stand With Us and The Israel Project, or social media outlets, such as Israel in My Heart, every individual has the power to influence the conversation taking place around the world. There is no less of a war taking place in the minds of people everywhere, and in the face of constant terrorist propaganda and Western media bias, everyone's voice is needed. Learn the facts and spread the truth.
3) Buy Israeli Products: International Boycott Israel campaigns are encouraging people to divest of Israeli investments and to stop buying Israeli products. In addition, relentless rocket attacks are taking their toll on Israelis both emotionally and economically. Buying Israeli products today is a potent way to counteract these campaigns of ignorant hatred, to strengthen the Israeli economy and unite with Israel in the war against terror.
Support Israel today!