New England NCSY Advisor Alex Porcelain of Yeshiva University began a Tehillim list on Google Docs and urged participants to sign up to say chapters. He started off passing the list to advisors from the New England NCSY region, but the list quickly spread around to other advisors and NCSYers around the U.S.
“Everyone was shaken up and didn’t know what to do,” Porcelain explained. “Everyone wanted to do something that would make a difference.”
By the next day, the entire book of Tehillim had been recited.
“While the morning hours of this past Monday were filled with sights and sounds of unity as thousands of people were cheering on runners, the afternoon hours were filled with sights and sounds of unity in the form of thousands merging into a caring family giving all of themselves to help those injured,” said Rabbi Shmuel Miller, regional director of New England NCSY, whose office was a few miles from the site of the bombing.
NCSY’s weekly Call of Inspiration, which typically features 15 minutes of inspirational divrei Torah, instead became a chance for close to 50 NCSYers to say tehillim together (listen here). Marc Fein, Regional Director of Upstate New York NCSY, introduced the chapters.
“We felt that the most meaningful way to spend those 15 minutes would be to come together as a community for those wounded in the Boston attack,” said Ariella Freedman, NCSY’s International Teen President. “Although we had planned to learn about Yom Ha’atzmaut and celebrate the State of Israel, we felt the responsibility to recognize greater tragedy and to help those in need. Saying Tehillim responsively with NCSYers from throughout the country was a true call of inspiration.”
Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, director of education for NCSY and the rabbi of the Young Israel of Passaic-Clifton, explained that the response is indicative of NCSY’s goals.
“One of NCSY core values is cultivating a sense of responsibility to the larger world,” Rabbi Glasser said. “It is a fundamental principle of Jewish belief and tradition to care and have compassion for all people in the world.”
Rabbi Glasser explained that Jews have always turned to reciting Tehillim in times of turmoil.
“From Biblical times when Jews felt emotionally and spiritually overwhelmed by life they turned to the poetry of Tehillim,” he said. “Tehillim is an extraordinary journey through the challenges and victories of life. Its gives expression to our deepest emotions.”