Photo Credit: / SL

Last week, I witnessed the joy of tens of thousands of Jews at the Kotel celebrating the miracle of modern-day Israel and a reunified Jerusalem on Yom Yerushalayim. However, this miracle came with a cost, leaving us with a fair amount of scarring and trauma.

We have lost lives in wars, terror attacks, and most recently, many lives were lost on October 7th with many still held hostage in Gaza, and tens of thousands of displaced Jews from their own homes inside of Israel. We face defamation online and public antisemitic demonstrations worldwide for being Jewish, even if we don’t live in Israel. The trauma we face is very real, in some cases, this has caused a heightened sense of irritability, an inability to cope with everyday stresses, and a sensation of being alone without friends in the world. For some people suffering from extreme cases of trauma, it has even caused a sense of helplessness in the face of all that has taken place in Israel and around the world against the Jewish people.


How do we cope with the stress of this recent war and the “tsunami of antisemitism,” as termed by Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt? How do we build resilience without lashing out at loved ones?

I recently attended a conference on the topic of psychotrauma and resiliency where I was introduced to an organization called, MOSHE – Words that Make a Difference. This organization works with suicide prevention in Israel. MOSHE believes in the power of community to support and strengthen people in crisis situations, addressing the two main factors affecting those suffering from emotional distress: extreme loneliness and a sense of helplessness.

By utilizing community support, MOSHE eliminates the loneliness factor by showing the person they are not alone. The organization then galvanizes the community to demonstrate that the person is not helpless and can change their situation. However, trauma is complicated and often affects us in waves, and what works in one moment, to help a person can fail later.

That is why we need a community, not just a single individual or family unit because the lows can hit us anywhere and at any time. By building a community, there will always be someone to help us up, and someone we can turn to, both individually and nationally. Sometimes we need an outside person to come and assist because when we are caught in a loop of overwhelming sadness or trauma, it is difficult to climb our way out by ourselves. This is where other people, showing us that we are not alone, and not helpless, can make all of the difference. I see this a lot in my work as a first responder both in individual cases, as well as when I respond as a part of a team to international crises. Providing outside assistance can be a game-changer and have a strong stabilizing presence on someone suffering from a traumatic incident or episode.

On the saddest day of the year, the 9th of Av, we read the book of Lamentations, which jumps between stating that Israel is alone and that the pain is ongoing, creating a sensation of hopelessness. Often the singular tense or language is used to emphasize the loneliness. Eicha yashva badad…. The book opens and not even three words go by and the concept of aloneness is highlighted. The hopeful refrain toward the end of the book, “Hashiveinu Adonai Aleinu v’nashuva, Hadesh Yameinu K’Kedem,” asks God to come and return to us, to be that person/entity that comes into our traumatic loop of sadness to push us out. The author uses plural terminology telling us that in order to end our sadness we need to build our community, and with God’s help we will be able to leave our individual sadness and join in the communal return, and finally rejoice, together, to the days before the trauma where we knew what it was like to dance and celebrate the miracle of living in our own land, free.

On Yom Yerushalayim, I saw a large community, many of whom were strangers to one another, come together, dance, laugh, and sing in a show of joy and exuberance, palpable and contagious. People watching, wallflowers, were pulled into dancing circles by others, often strangers, to become active participants in the joyousness of the day. It was almost as if we had returned to a time before the trauma of October 7th. Almost.

The refrain “United We Stand” is not just a phrase; it is part of the remedy for trauma. I’ve learned that what pulls people through in times of personal or communal devastation, is overwhelming acts of lovingkindness from others, often strangers, but more often people in a community, or who are in the process of building one together. Those acts of lovingkindness, chessed, show the person going through trauma that they are not alone and that they are not helpless.

Also last week, I attended an AISH workshop on strategy and planning, we discussed how to achieve connection in the Jewish World, as many who are facing antisemitism for the first time are searching for connection as a remedy. One suggestion was to meet those suffering where they are, connect with them, pull them out of their own traumatic loops, show them that they are not alone and that they are not helpless, and help them take action, no matter how small to emphasize that point, and through that, reestablish their self-identity and resilience.

When you come across a person suffering from trauma, whether it is being exposed to antisemitism, the death of a loved one, worry about what the future will hold, or anxiety at the current state of affairs in Israel or around the globe, don’t ask them ‘What can I do for you?’ That puts the burden on them to initiate a connection which is something that they may not be ready for or even able to do. Rather, simply show up, take a look around at what their issue is, what loop they happen to be in, and take action, ideally helping them become active as well. This will solidify the message that they are not alone and that they are not helpless and will help them get through the trauma that they are currently facing.

To break out of a traumatic experience or cycle, it takes work from the person experiencing the trauma and those close to them or an external person or group to build the supportive community they need. If we do this well enough for each person and our entire people, we will all be able to dance again like those at the Kotel did on Yom Yerushalayim. May we all merit to do so together, soon.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleWar Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, Cabinet Observer Gadi Eisenkot Abandon Government
Next articleINTO THE FRAY: Fickle Feckless France- Egalite, Fraternite …ANTISEMITISME
Raphael Poch works as the Senior PR and Marketing Manager at Aish, is a freelance journalist, volunteers as an EMT and lives with his family in Efrat.