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On Israel

As someone who lives outside of Israel right now, having to care for my family and live my life here…

I don’t intend to post my weekly emails here—make sure to sign up if you want to get ’em hot off the press—but I received so many responses to this that convinced me the message needed to be made shareable.

The email I planned to send today—which I meant to send last week, which I actually wrote in that endless stretch between school and camp—was a mindset reframe on enjoying having kids home even when they’re off schedule and nobody’s enjoying themselves. Yeah. Nobody needs a reminder now to hug their babies and give them an extra kiss.

I don’t usually respond to current events as they unfold. I think a knee-jerk response is a little pretentious. I don’t have any answers. Plus I like to stay in my own lane, nice and clear of news and politics that give me road rage.

I’ve actually been thinking about this email for two days now. As I tucked my six year old into bed after hakafos on Shemini Atzeres night (if you’re wondering, the other kids had a 7:30 bedtime on both nights), he said, “Mommy, I got a whole suitcase of nosh! I bet that’s more candy than the whole Israel!”

He was safe, in his house, with both his parents. I put together the Playmobil dollhouse while he was out, so it would be played with in the morning. He surely was luckier than the whole of Israel. I already knew something was up—my husband had come home from shul repeating news from the janitor. I just didn’t know exactly what.

When I finally turned on my phone last night, I made a quick decision to turn it right back off so my kids could have a relaxed mother during bedtime. (Unfortunately, the next decision was to then stay glued to it for three hours.)

After that, I had to ask myself some questions. As someone who lives outside of Israel right now, having to care for my family and live my life here…

  • How much capacity do I have / how much can my nervous system take and still be attuned and present for my family?
  • How much news am I supposed to consume? Is it okay to turn it off? Is it like pretending the Holocaust isn’t happening because my eyes are closed? Do I get the luxury of opting out or must I suffer together with my fellow Jews? 
  • How is reading the news serving me? Does being in the know empower and inspire me, or leave me feeling helpless rage or grief? Does it help me empathize or numb me? (Does it benefit me or my family to feel that?)
  • Is it called “being there in spirit” if it leaves me stressed out, high-strung and anxious? If a home was destroyed physically, must mine be affected emotionally as well?
  • Practically, what can I actually do?

I don’t have answers. But I can make a decision that works for me and my family right now. 

Here’s what I’ll do: 

  1. Buy a letter in a Sefer Torah for my baby—the other kids have one already. (Adults purchase here)
  2. Tell my oldest (age 6.5) as simply as possible, “There’s a war in Israel” without letting him overhear gory details, and explain further as necessary or as he comes back with questions. And yes, I was totally guilty today of having an adult conversation about this in front of little ears. In general, I believe in protecting and cocooning our kids (more on this topic in a prior email from a little while ago).
  3. Either join a children’s rally where they will recite the 12 pesukim, or recite it at our own supper table
  4. Put an alarm on my phone to recite Tehillim (20, 22, 69, 122, 150, 81-90) with tzedakah
  5. Hopefully uninstall Instagram for the next few days

I am the gatekeeper who chooses what enters my home. To the extent that I can control it, I am in charge, not the news, the media or the picture that shows up on my feed. Yes, it’s a luxury. 

May we all be so lucky… especially in Israel.

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