The news out of the Middle East is horrific, and you may be feeling like you want to do something to support the Jewish community but don’t know what actions to take.
This morning was just like every other morning. I woke up, got dressed, and hurried to my kids’ rooms to get them up and moving. Then, I sipped on my coffee while getting my kids’ lunches packed while at the same time making sure they were dressed appropriately (today was “green day” at school) and weren’t causing too much havoc around the house.
This morning was unlike any other morning. As I told my kids good morning, I hugged them each a few seconds longer. As I packed their lunches for school, I wondered if I was making the “right” decision to send them to school today. There had been endless texts the night before and the morning of from other mothers questioning what they should (or not) do. My husband and I decided to send ours. We decided that we didn’t want to live in fear. I noticed, as my husband buckled the kids in the car, he said “I love you. Be safe.” My son questioned why he said be safe. “Because it’s always important to be safe”, he answered. At drop-off, I hugged them a little bit tighter and said, (as I do every morning) “Have a good day. Be kind”. But really, I was just second-guessing myself. Hoping I made the right decision. I anxiously waited until their 3:00 pickup.
I am having constant intrusive thoughts. Images of the horrific acts I have read about and seen constantly pop up in my mind. Not an hour, minute, moment goes by without something terrible, that is beyond human comprehension, flashes into my mind. I have overwhelming feelings of guilt for being thankful that I am not in Israel. That I am safe in my home in Houston. And then in the next moment, I fear for my safety. I’m wondering if it’s safe for me to send my children to school or go to the Jewish bakery to buy a challah for Shabbat dinner. I feel helpless while searching for ways to help. I have all of these thoughts, fears and more. All the while, smiling and being patient with my child who is upset that I was so distracted this morning that I forgot to give them the apple they asked for. I don’t want my children to sense my fear or sadness. I cover it up while holding it all inside.
Yet all of these thoughts, fears, worries, and concerns are nothing compared to those that parents in Israel have been facing.
Hamas is a terrorist organization. They have committed acts of terrorism, brutality, and violence beyond comprehension. They have kidnapped, murdered, and maimed innocent babies, children, men, women, and the elderly. They have created a level of physical and psychological warfare that is unfathomable. Yes, the history of the Middle East is complicated. But this is not about that. Hamas is a terrorist group whose actions must be condemned. There is no justification or rationalization for its actions. This is terrorism and brutality. Full stop.
The Jewish community is not okay. But this article is not for them. Yes, they will appreciate the support. But they are the ones who are in it. The ones who are constantly updating their phones and emails to get the latest news. The ones who worry each day about what horrific news or nightmare-ish story will show up on their newsfeed or inbox next. The Jewish community knows it is suffering. Knows it is in pain. Knows that the hurt will not end even after (G-d willing) the fighting is over. It is for everyone else out there who is hopefully still reading. I repeat. We are not okay.
We need you. Whether your best friend is a Jew or that girl you knew in high school is a Jew or if the only Jew you know is your neighbor’s brother’s hairdresser’s girlfriend. You don’t even have to know someone Jewish! We need you. Hopefully the question that pops into your head is “What can I do?” Support, love, and a show of solidarity are a good way to start.
How You Can Support the Jewish Community
Check in on your Jewish friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Ask them how they are doing. Ask them how you can help support them. For some it may be creating a distraction for them. For others it may be helping with their kids for an hour, so they have time to grieve and breathe.
Silence is our worst enemy. Talk about the scary things. The difficult things.
Read or watch the news. Check the facts. Ask questions. They say knowledge is power. As my friend said, “Don’t put your head in the sand”.
Support Local Jewish Businesses
There are a ton – whether you realize it or not. Initially, I wanted to make a list of all the incredible shops and restaurants to support. Then reality set in (along with my husband and friend who worked for the ADL). Like it or not, publishing a list of Jewish owned businesses would create threat to those people. That is the type of world we currently live in. Terrifying, I know. So, ask around. Find out which businesses you can support and show them love.
There are an endless number legitimate organizations to send funds to. Some of them include the Magen David Adom (Isaeli Red Cross), FIDF, JGive, Operation Embrace, and IDF soldiers basic needs. Please check that a source is legitimate before donating.
I want the last thing to say is the takeaway. The thing people will remember. This one is no different. The only way I can think to end this is the same way I left my kids at school drop off this morning. Be kind.