“Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la zeh – All Jews are responsible for one another” is a Talmudic phrase most often used as a call to action. A symbol of the responsibility we should feel for the well-being of others. It is also a sign of unity and strength, and it reminds us that we are never truly alone in our struggles.
With this in mind, we wanted to reach out to the Blue Dove community and let you know we are here for you and are thinking about everyone affected by what is happening in Israel, both physically and mentally. We want to validate the wide range of mental, physical and emotional reactions you may be going through and hopefully bring some normalization and understanding. Please know whatever you are experiencing is a completely normal and human reaction.
What many of us are experiencing right now can be classified as a secondary trauma reaction, often described this way: A person does not have to experience a traumatic event directly to suffer from these symptoms. When this occurs, it is called secondary or second-hand trauma. These symptoms are real and significant. Even the threat of a traumatic event occurring or hearing someone share their traumatic experience can be enough to trigger these symptoms. Individuals with a history of trauma can be more sensitive to current trauma.
Note: While many of us share a strong connection to Israel and feel as though our own community is being attacked, we want to be sensitive to the differences between this situation and other types of trauma commonly experienced. Nothing compares to actually being there or having a child, family member or close friend going through this personally.
To help you navigate the current situation, we would like to offer the following suggestions and resources. Please use and share whatever resonates for you.
Acknowledging and Validating what you are feeling | Breathing | Grounding | Limit your exposure to Social Media | Reliable News Sources | Connection | Healing from Collective Trauma | Prayer | Additional Resources
Acknowledge and validate what you are feeling – While it may be tempting to ignore whatever reaction you are having, you should stay in tune with your own mental health, self-monitor it and plan whatever self-care practice you feel will be the best coping strategy for you at the moment. Even if you don’t “feel” anything, that doesn’t mean you aren’t being affected. Many people experience physical or emotional symptoms right away; others may need some time before they experience symptoms.
Breathing – Being aware of and changing our breathing is the primary strategy we have to control anxiety and other emotional responses to stress. When we are anxious, the body’s natural stress response is to breathe shallowly and take in less oxygen. By breathing more slowly and deeply, we can reverse this process and calm our agitation. Check out this resource adapted from the Foundation for Jewish Camp.
Grounding – There are strategies that can help contain our emotional reactions, stop unproductive cycles of thinking and bring us into the present moment, where we have more control over our mind and body, and where we feel safer. Examples include: breathing, utilizing our five senses, e.g., comforting touch or smell, and identifying unhelpful and untrue patterns of thinking. Read more about grounding here.
Limit your exposure to social media – In a crisis, it is easy to continuously check the news for updates, or “doomscroll.” Doomscrolling can negatively affect our mental and physical health. Our bodies can respond to violent images and videos as if we were in danger, which can lead to secondary trauma responses. Be mindful of how much time you are spending watching the news, scrolling through social media, etc., and take care of yourself accordingly. Note: Social media can have unregulated comments, posts and commentary that might be untrue, triggering and offensive. Take care of yourself.
Reliable news sources – We encourage you to attend briefings offered by numerous Jewish agencies, including the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federation of North America, to get up-to-date and accurate information. In addition, we urge everyone to turn to reliable news sources to stay informed about the escalating situation. Two recommended English news outlets providing a constant live stream of breaking news are Times of Israel and i24 News.
Connection – Think about one or two people you can reach out to in your circle when you’re feeling stress and anxiety. Identifying an “emotions chavruta” with which you can share what’s going through your mind allows you to be raised up by those who care about you. Reach out to friends and family to “check-in” and see how they are doing. You can use this resource to guide your chavruta.
Healing from Collective Trauma – This beautiful article by Talya Gordon examines collective trauma and offers thoughts around healing.
Prayer – Jewish prayers and rituals can help to strengthen our mental well-being and resilience. For those who connect with prayer, it can be a meaningful way toward healing. Prayer can help us channel our thoughts into concrete action, projecting our care, love and hope out into the world. If you do not have a regular prayer practice and are unsure of how to start, we offer some suggestions for prayers to recite and/or steps you can take. We also know it may be hard to find the right words at a time like this. We invite you to read more about silent meditation and unstructured prayer practice of Hitbodedut. To learn more, see our full resource.
Additional resources – We know these conversations can be especially challenging to have with children, so we want to share some great resources to help you.
- Resources for Schools on Violence and Terrorists Attacks In Israel, Prizmah Knowledge Center
- Here’s How to Talk to Your Kids About the Violence in Israel and Gaza, Kveller article
- Guidance for Talking to Our Kids, Dr. Betsy Stone
- Resources for Teaching about Israel in Crisis, Jewish Education Project
- Resource Library for Children, Shomer Collective
- Packing Your Antisemitism Toolkit: A Webinar for Jewish Educators, Jewish Education Project
Trauma can manifest itself in many forms. You can read more about it and how to support others as well as yourself in our Jewish Guide to Supporting Individuals through Traumatic Death.
The Blue Dove Foundation is here to provide you with information and resources. While we do not provide mental health treatment, we want to emphasize the importance of seeking the type of support you need. Many communities are setting up temporary response programs and phone lines. We suggest connecting with your local Jewish Family Service.
Remember it is OK to not be OK, and “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la zeh – All Jews are responsible for one another.” You are not alone.
We pray for the safety and comfort of the victims of this tragedy and peace for all.
Note: Much of the content in this email has been translated into social media posts for everyone to disseminate online. Download them here. You can also see this message as a landing page on our website for easy sharing.