Powerful Message of Unity from Mourning Father/Husband Rabbi Leo Dee

by Avi Abelow

As the Sabbat comes upon us here in Israel, Rabbi Leo Dee, who’s wife and two daughters were murdered in a terror attack last Friday, wanted to share a special message of unity with the Jewish people.

Where he has the strength to focus on giving over such messages, as he is in the middle of the week of mourning following this tragedy, is beyond me. We all must listen to Rabbi Leo Dee.

Rabbi Leo Dee’s Message of Unity

5 years ago my family took a beautiful holiday in the Golan. There were no shops in the little village with our Tzimmer (guest house) and so I drove down one morning to Kiryat Shmona in order to buy some fruit and cereals for breakfast. On the way, I picked up a soldier who was hitchhiking. Speaking to him in Hebrew, he told me that he was a lone soldier. So I asked him where his family was from. He told me Israel. I thought that lone soldiers were always Jews who came from other countries, alone, and had no family in Israel. So I asked him “Where’s your family?” He answered me that his family is Charedi and since he had decided to join the army, he was now on his own. He said to me, “I am not religious.” I paused and thought. And then I said to him, “Who’s to say that you’re not religious? Perhaps defending Israel’s security and saving the lives of others whilst putting our own at risk is the greatest mitzvah that you could ever do? To me you’re the most religious person I’ve met.” I saw tears in his eyes as I dropped him off in Kiryat Shmona.

We have many different terms for different Jews: secular, religious zionist, charedi.

These are misleading terms that only lead to divisions in the Jewish people.

So let me try to make a new distinction.

If you are a Jew who is doing more this week than you did last week – you are Dati.

If not, then you are someone who is working on becoming Dati.

That’s it. Two options.

Lucy taught me that you can transform yourself in far less than a lifetime. Some people can do it overnight, some people take many years.

So, if you’re someone who last week sat through Friday night with their family and looked at their smartphone, but this week has dinner with the phone switched off. You are religious.

If you’re someone who, last week, did not have time to tell someone you love them (a parent, spouse, child, friend) and this week you did – you are religious.

If you’re someone who, last week, did not have time to visit an elderly neighbor, a sick person in hospital, or just a person who may not get so many visits from others for any reason – you are religious.

There are so many ways to be Dati. These are only three examples.

If we move forwards in doing good, more good will get done this week than last week. We are then putting ourselves on a journey to becoming better.

If we are on a journey to becoming better as individuals then the whole Jewish people will be on a journey to becoming a better example to the world and then the whole world will become a better place because of us.

It’s that simple.

But it starts with each and every one of us.

Shabbat Shalom

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