Our hearts have been broken over and over again.
We now know that atrocities and the brutalization of our people are not only a part of our history, they are the reality of being Jewish in 2023.
We also know now how interconnected we are as a people. There is no separation between us and those mourning the loss of loved ones massacred or kidnapped.
Or worrying endlessly about the injured in the hospital.
Or running to saferooms to shelter from rockets.
Or losing sleep over those called up to serve in the IDF.
And for many of us, we care deeply about civilians in Gaza and what the ‘leadership’ of Hamas has brought down on them as well. We scroll, and we scroll, and we can’t look away. We feel we must bear witness, but what is happening is too much to bear.
Our hearts have been broken – are breaking over and over.
A little over a week ago, we woke up and realized that the world is very different from the way we thought it was. Hate and antisemitisim are more proximate than we realized. We didn’t truly understand how vulnerable we are. The existence of a Jewish State was insufficient to protect us from the unimaginable.
We realize our naivete and are now questioning other assumptions we have made about the world and our place in it. The scale of the tragedy is unbearable. We are each traumatized, and we feel it in our own way.
One other way that we are changed is that it feels callous to be happy or to post photos of a celebration or a personal milestone. How can we celebrate our children when parents in Israel are mourning or missing theirs? How can we feel pride in our accomplishments when so many dreams have been cut off early? And how can we share anything good when we have been terrorized and brutalized as a people?
And yet, finding joy, or appreciation for our lives is a critical way for us to respond right now.
Our hearts are big enough to hold it all. Feeling happiness won’t change what happened. But it is an act of resistance. It’s one way we can affirm life and not death. One way we can bring light back into this very, very dark world.
So please: Keep living.
Go through life with a new appreciation for what a blessing it is simply to live if you’re lucky enough to be able to.
Be truly present for a loved one.
Savor the feeling of the wind on your face.
Relish in the flavor of your favorite food.
Find a way to appreciate the enjoyment in life.
Tell others about it.
This is what we are fighting for.
And if/when you have extra bandwidth, do something to ensure that others in this world have the same opportunities that we do to affirm life as well. Far too many people on our planet are living in their own forms of darkness.
Advocate, donate, volunteer, reach out. This week, we saw the depths of darkness.
Let’s dedicate our lives, as we are lucky enough to have them, to ensuring that more people can experience light.