Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! -Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Together. I have a deep love of words, and one I fell in love with on my trip to Israel some years ago is the word, "yalla!" Perhaps because my tour guide and friend, Peter, said it with such enthusiasm. Perhaps because it's so much like another favorite word, "y'all," or perhaps because my boys love to say it too. I discovered recently that the origin of this word is Arabic, but it has become a common Hebrew phrase. Sometimes, a word is simply too good to be left alone in one language, and others adopt it. My family has.
The word "yalla" loosely means some mixture of "let's go" and "hurry up." It indicates more of an enthusiasm than a rush. It's playful. Its urgency is not hurried or condescending. In fact, it's a common phrase to wrap up a phone conversation. Instead of the less polite, "well, I should be going..." or something similar, it's an invitation for both parties to go and get things done. The implied meaning is that whatever is about to be done is done together, or in unity. Yalla is a team word, a family word.
I was reminded of it this week. This shared Arabic/Hebrew word came to mind when a historic Jewish cemetery was vandalized in University City, Missouri. The Muslim community reacted to this act of anti-Semitism and hate with love and urgency. Yalla! They sprang into action. Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi started a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $80,000 to repair the damage to headstones, some marking the graves of holocaust survivors who made it to America after WWII.
I was inspired by the outpouring of grief, empathy, and support in such a moment. Their offer of condolences and a show of true solidarity in their actions was in the true spirit of their shared humanity. We should all be people who are ready to act when we witness evil and say, "Yalla! I am with you. Let's go."
Prayer for Today
Oh Lord, help us be witnesses, but not bystanders. Help us to turn to our brothers and sisters when we see evil and be quick to listen, quick to compassion, quick to love, and eager to say, "Yalla! Let's go!"