*Since the collective letter was sent to Evan, the letters have continued to pour in. We are pleased that nearly 3,000 well-wishers from 24 countries have sent Rosh Hashana wishes to Evan.
As members of the Jewish community prepared to wish one another a sweet new year for Rosh Hashana, your plight was front and center in our minds. We know that your ongoing detention makes such wishes of sweetness seem all the more distant. At this holy time of year, when we are called to reflect upon our deeds and obligations to make the world more whole, you are not only in our hearts and in our prayers, but also at the center of our words and actions. That is why 2,144 people from 21 countries took the time to write you Rosh Hashana greetings, sending you their well wishes, words of support, and prayers for your release in English, Hebrew, Russian, and Spanish. The following is a collective Rosh Hashana greeting weaving a sampling of these messages together. We hope they will inspire you and provide you hope in the new year. The letters continue to pour in, and they will await you when you return home.
- Your friends at Jewish Federations of North America -
Perhaps, after so many months in prison, you might think that you risk being forgotten. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your brothers and sisters around the world are praying for you. We discuss you and your case. We tell our children and grandchildren about your bravery. We are inspired by you.
We set a place for you at our family Seder on Passover and we will set a place for you at our festive Rosh Hashanah meal. Our 2-year-old grandson was puzzled by the fact that you neither sat in your chair nor ate the food. You were, and are, truly missed. One of our core Jewish prayers demands of God to free captives. For thousands of years, we have intoned this timeless prayer: “Our brothers, the entire family of Israel, who are delivered into distress and captivity, whether they are on sea or dry land - may the Omnipresent One have mercy on them and remove them from distress to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption, now, speedily, and soon - and let us say: Amen.”
Evan, this prayer galvanizes Jews to help each other. It makes sure we do all we can to help our brothers and sisters in need. It puts those who are imprisoned unjustly at the forefront of our memories and our national action. And we are saying it now, for you.
I really don’t know you, Evan, but I heard your story and I've been thinking about you a lot since March. How are you passing the time? What are you eating? What story ideas have you come up with? Our hearts are with you.
Life can be so cruel and unfair, just as it is a gift of beauty and hope. Your face and smile are beautiful and hopeful. Your prolonged incarceration is symbolic of how terribly imperfect our world is. You are invaluable, Evan. Your life, freedom, and stories are precious and deserve to be honored and protected. But remember: throughout our history, Jews have faced seemingly insurmountable challenges. And every time, with unwavering spirit and unity, we have overcome.
I am a simple man and all I can do is to tell you that you are in my prayers. Every time I see your beautiful face in the papers - and I see it often - I am amazed and inspired by your courageous personality.
Your colleagues are advocating for your release nonstop, and you are a constant topic of conversation. Your friends and peers have been writing all about you. They have brought you to life. You seem like an upbeat person, which I hope is serving you well in the terrible place you find yourself. You are a hero. Your impact on the world has been - and will be - immeasurable. Thank you for your journalism.
Find some way to be patient and to trust. Keep your mind active - write that book in your head that you will put to paper when you get out! Though you may be physically detained, remember that your spirit and courage can never be imprisoned.
As I pray for good health for my parents, my children, my grandson, and my soon-to-born granddaughter, I pray for your good health as well. I will pray for you and your family to help you through these dark days. Our family has a picture of you in our family calendar so that each day we pray for your release.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of blessed memory taught that faith is not certainty. Faith is the courage to live with uncertainty. Hold onto your dreams, your faith, and the knowledge that there are many who care about your well-being and are working tirelessly for your release. As you sit in your solitary prison cell, know that you are not alone in this journey.
Try to find the cracks of light within the dark. Summon those sparks of light to fill your soul with hope. Stay strong because soon the darkness will fade and you will walk with your head held high into the warm embrace of those who love you. In the darkest of times, the light of hope shines brightest. Keep shining, dear Evan.
I will light a candle for you on Rosh Hashanah. I know so many people are lighting a candle for you. I hope you can imagine all that light, hope and love shining so bright for you.
The shofar is a tunnel containing many dark twists and turns, but there is always light around the bend whichever way one goes. As the shofar sounds in the coming days and the candles are lit, let these symbols of faith remind you that even in the most challenging moments, miracles can happen. Stay strong, and we can't wait to welcome you home, soon. Until then, know that millions of people are thinking of you. You are not a stranger, but a brother among your people. Evan, we will never forget you!
Shana tova, Evan