Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dr. Yael,

We are all so upset by the tragedies in Israel and by the clear rise in antisemitism all over the world. In America we are struggling with realizing that our colleges are not safe and that we are living with people who hate us because we are Jewish. This is very challenging. My friends, my husband and I are collecting money to send to Israel for the chayalim – soldiers. We are packing boxes with boots and supplies. We feel the pain in this generation and are struggling to deal with it. We all feel sad, depressed and scared about the tragedies that are going on. I feel this is affecting us personally. My married children are happy about our involvement, but want us to enjoy our lives more. We used to do more fun things, but we feel guilty going to restaurants or going out to have fun when so many people are suffering.




Dear Anonymous,

It is a tragic time that our nation is enduring. Your involvement to help Israel is impressive and commendable. Davening – praying, and doing positive things to help Israel is extremely useful and productive; however, feeling depressed is not helpful or constructive in any way. It is hard to feel happy in these trying times, but it is our job to fight the sadness and to try to be positive and happy. If you want to be helpful to our brothers and sisters in Israel, please continue all of the davening and physical help you are giving. It is important, though, to focus on all your personal brachot – blessings, so that you do not continue to feel sad and depressed.

It sounds like you have loving, married children. You must take care of your marriage, enjoy your life, exercise, go out with friends, and continue to lead healthy, happy and productive lives. It is hard to feel happy, or even content, when our brothers and sisters are hostages and others are fighting for us. But, unless we channel these feelings into davening and chesed – good deeds, they are extremely unhelpful feelings. Thus, if you find yourself feeling sad, it is important to try to fight the sadness and depression. You should try to go out, enjoy your life, and spend time with friends and family. Hashem wants us to focus on the good in our lives and to be happy

The chayalim want us to do positive things for their success.. There is a program pairing shomer Shabbat chayalim who are fighting and can’t keep Shabbat with American Jewish families who don’t usually keep Shabbat and are keeping Shabbat in the zechut – merit of the specific chayalim. There are many other programs out there to do things in the merit of a soldier or a hostage. This is where we need to channel our energy. Please try to feed yourself emotionally so you do not become depressed. If you feel you are already feeling depressed and need help, please seek professional help to deal with your feelings of sadness.

Hatzlacha with learning how to inject joy back into your life and please give yourself some space to enjoy life even when your heart is with our brothers and sisters in Israel!


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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to [email protected]. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at