Josh Gilman is a writer. And the whole world needs to see what he’s written.
And, in the past few days, a lot of the world has.
Josh is Canadian, a Dad, a communications specialist, and was formerly involved in politics. The party he belonged to isn’t actually relevant. What’s relevant is what he wrote, because he wrote it from his heart. As a human being. As a believer in humanity.
And as a Jew.
His blogged essay – titled “Why you might have lost all your Jewish friends this week and didn’t even know it” – is simply extraordinary. And, as noted, it has gone around the world.
Usually, he told me, his blog entries get seen by a couple hundred people, mainly family and friends. But this one? It’s now getting closer to one million views – with half a million in the States alone, and thousands more in far-flung places like Ireland, Sweden and South Africa. And, of course, Israel.
There’s not enough room here, unfortunately, to quote all of what Josh wrote. If you are online, a link to all of it is here. Read it. The gist of it, really, is found in these passages:
• “When you are Jewish, you are always aware that there is a large population in the world that wants to kill you. Even if they aren’t trying now, you read history and you see that every few generations, at the very least, some group tries to kill all or at least a lot of Jewish people.
We may like your posts that say ‘never again,’ but we never fully believe it.”
• “Did you know that that is a category of friend that every Jewish person has in their mind? Who would I run to? Who would hide me? We don’t wonder if; we wonder when. Because we know that whether it is indeed us, or whether it is our brothers and sisters in Israel, or in France, or in Pittsburgh, it will happen again somewhere.”
• “The greatest soothing to my soul this past week has been seeing friends and old colleagues post notes of support. It truly means the world. It’s not too late. But consider this carefully, because it is not a game. If you read this and choose to reach out, choose to take a stand publicly.”
Most of us do not ever need to wonder if someone will come to kill us one day. Or, wonder who will take us in, so that we can survive. But Josh has. His family and friends have. Jews have.
Josh and his family have temporarily relocated to the United States for work – I won’t say where – but he agreed to answer some of my questions about what he wrote. He told me he started writing his essay to “process my own thoughts and feelings.” He sent it to Jewish friends. They said it reflected what they were feeling, too.
“The response,” Josh says, “has been overwhelming. I’ve received messages from all over the world. From grandmothers in Germany, to writers in Hollywood, from almost every corner of the planet. Jews and gentiles.”
He’s proud, and he should be. But how is he feeling, these days?
“Different waves,” he says. “Waves of grief, at what has happened. Waves of concern for the ongoing war. Waves of defiance, [that] the terrorists and murderers will not win – and we will win and we will thrive.”
He pauses. He mentions the so-called “day of jihad,” last Friday. “That night my youngest daughter was crying in the middle of the night…I just held her and stared at her beautiful face, thinking of every Jewish baby that was murdered. And I was overwhelmed by both gratitude that I was holding my darling daughter, and by grief for every family destroyed in Israel.”
I want to keep quoting this amazing young man, but I’ve run out of room. I ask him if he has any final words, anything that he wants non-Jews to know, too.
He muses. “For my non-Jewish friends, you simply have no idea how meaningful your words of love and support are. It’s never too late to reach out and it means everything.”
So, there you go, friends of Israel and the Jewish community.
Listen to Josh Gilman – and reach out.