Israel at War

I’m struggling.  And I know I am not the only one.

For the past few weeks, I have been walking around in somewhat of a daze.  Caught up in report after report on the war, I have, at times spiraled into dark places.  I want to remain hopeful; the louder voices in my head keep telling me, “The People of Israel will live and carry on – Am Yisraeil Chai.”   Yet, my heart, often at a breaking point, is not so sure about my head.

The descriptions and images readily available on social media are beyond belief.  I made the conscious decision to avoid them to a great extent.  I know the atrocities happened; I don’t need to see them and have those lasting pictures in my mind.  On the faces of journalists, non-Jewish friends, the family members who have lost loved ones, it is easy to see that this is very, very real.  And deeply painful.

I feel for those who have lost so much:

As if all of that were not enough, the weariness is multiplied by the constant barrage of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic outbursts we are seeing all over the world.  Even here in our own backyard, the rhetoric, anger-filled protests, and the threats being made against the Jewish community have raised our fear to unprecedented levels.

Even here in New York, it is easy to encounter the backlash, most especially on college campuses.  I feel for all college students who are struggling to feel safe, let alone to find their way towards understanding the gravity of what is happening. The swirl of misinformation and competing narratives can make it so overwhelming.

All of this is a lot to take in. Sorting through our own feelings and wading through the overwhelming information seems like a luxury, one we cannot afford to indulge.  We have always been a people associated with hope.  So even now, with all that weighs us down, with the world falling apart around us, hope is what we need.

I have been asked what we might do to help.  There are ways to donate and opportunities to assist those in financial, psychological, and/or emotional need; watch for emails from TBE on ways to help.  In addition, I would ask two things:

  1. Be together: We have always found strength in working together as a community. And even when we find ourselves in moments of disagreement, there is a comfort knowing that a roomful of people is struggling with the same challenges.  (That has been the most amazing element of this war.  Israel was completely divided before October 7th, yet they have set all of that aside and banded together.)
  2. Be kind: The thought of being kind might seem cliché, but what we are fighting for is not just about a strip of land on the Mediterranean or a war against an enemy. There is value to be found in the history and the heritage which are ours.  Judaism calls on us to be strong when necessary, yet also always to show compassion and kindness.

It is hard to know how long this war will continue; even after Israeli troops withdraw from Gaza the fighting will not end completely.  There is much uncertainty ahead yet we should try and hold on to our hope – Hatikvah.

Am Yisrael Chai – the people in Israel and all of us, the people of Israel, WILL live.  Hopefully, one day there will be peace and quiet and contentment.  As it is written in the Book of Isaiah, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  And all shall sit under their vine and their fig tree and none shall make them afraid.”  We pray that day will come soon, for us, for the Palestinians, and for ALL peoples.  Hopefully, it will be in our lifetime.