Photo Credit: Jewish Press

I spent time in Israel this past summer, and every step I took reverberated with a deep connection with the land itself and with my Zadie, z’’l. I literally cannot remember a moment when I didn’t feel them both running through my head, heart, and soul. I can understand why the land of Israel kept roaring through my subconscious…I was IN Israel after all. But why my Zadie? I felt close to him for sure, but we were never in Israel together, and we hardly ever spoke of it. And yet with every step, there he was. I didn’t stop to figure out why; I just appreciated his being with me again.

Israel and my Zadie have now been a constant, intertwined thought since the horrific events of October 7 as well. And now I understand what happened during the summer.


Ohr. From the tiniest spark to the brightest beam, Light gives us security. As long as it’s there, we don’t give in to our fear. Light is simultaneously the remnants of what came before and the start of what’s to come. Ohr is the land of Israel. While evil may cause its flame to flicker and dim, its presence remains and its influence shines bright. Ohr was my Zadie. Overcoming the horrors of the Holocaust, he remained a light, steadfast in his faith while he dedicated his life to helping others.

This war is testing our light, triggering our insecurity and fear. But just like the land of Israel, our Zadies, and all who came before us, the ohr of the Jewish people will remain. We will continue to shine bright and illuminate the world.


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Solly Hess is the chief development officer at Southern NCSY, a motivational speaker, and the co-host of the "It's OK, We're Jewish" podcast.