It was a very rough day.

As horrific news of terrorist attacks kept streaming on my news feed, I couldn’t stop thinking about the victims and their families, as well as the safety of my family, community and nation.

Sitting at my desk at the Tel Aviv-based startup where I work, I found it difficult to focus on my day’s to-do list. How many people’s lives had already been shattered this morning? I wondered. When and where will terror strike next? Fear was beginning to take its grip and work seemed tenuous. What could I possibly do to help?

I began my early-evening trek home by waiting for a train at the Tel Aviv University station like I usually do. But before I ascended to Platform #2, a pianist caught my attention. He was a plain-clothed soldier, masterfully playing Matisyahu’s One Day. I found his music to be a little respite from the day’s painful reality.

Then two things happened. First, the pianist began to play “Vehi She’Amda,” a traditional song from Passover that describes how in every generation there are those who rise up to kill us, yet we are always saved by God. And second, an Orthodox (Haredi) musician happened to be passing by, put his suitcase down, grabbed a flute from one of his bags and joined in.

The music was transcendental and the depth of its meaning gave me much-needed inspiration. And I was overcome with emotion to see this music generated by a small microcosm of Israeli society. To those musicians – and all of us watching – it was irrelevant what we wore on our heads (if anything at all), our level of observance or what country we came from. It didn’t matter if we spent our day at a high-tech startup, serving in the army or learning Torah. The only thing that truly mattered was that we were One Nation. We were all under attack, yet so united.

Those few moments felt magical. To share it with my family, I videoed the scene with my phone. It was just a 47-second amateur shot but it captured what I had felt.

After hopping on the train, I uploaded the video to my family’s WhatsApp chat. With my parents and siblings scattered across North America, I thought they would appreciate getting an ‘insider’s view’ of the way Israelis respond to terror. Their reaction was immediate and super-positive; my wife and mother even coaxed me into sharing the video onto my Facebook feed, something I rarely do. But out of respect for them, I did.

Then it went viral.

Moments after posting the video on my Wall, the Likes and positive feedback started streaming in. Then the Social Media Manager of Nefesh B’Nefesh requested to post it onto their Facebook page. Within just 12 hours, their post received about 90,000 views, and thousands of Likes and Shares. 48 hours after the video the posted, it had skyrocketed to nearly 200,000 views!

What was this video’s secret, viral ingredient? Countless videos are posted each day; why did thousands of viewers decide to share this one with their respective circles of friends?

Read the hundreds of comments and you’ll see for yourself. Contrary to what the media usually portrays, we are a united nation. We may sometimes bicker, like all siblings do, but we stand strong, we stand proud and we stand together.

Moreover, by being true to our unique personalities, backgrounds and purpose, we each play our own metaphorical instrument, producing original sound. Yet we play together, creating music far more beautiful than any one of us can create on our own.

 
Spontaneous Vehi She'amdah-Yonatan Razel

"I just experienced this at a train station in Tel Aviv, during what has been a very challenging day for our Land and People. Listen closely to the song they are playing, and appreciate the diverse, yet unified, audience. The flutist joined in as he was walking by. It's these kinds of experiences that make me love living here. Am Yisrael Chai." -Moe M. #LiveLoveIsraelוְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ, וְלָנוּ--שֶׁלֹּא אֶחָד בִּלְבָד עָמַד עָלֵינוּ, אֵלָא בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר עוֹמְדִים עָלֵינוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנוּ; וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, מַצִּילֵנוּ מִיָּדָם

Posted by Nefesh B'Nefesh on Thursday, October 8, 2015