While Israelis Suffer, American Jews try to learn the best way to be supportive

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Earlier today someone I know through Facebook made a special request to her fellow Jews living outside of Israel.  Her request basically was that her Jewish brethren recognize the difficult times facing the citizens of Israel and refrain from posting pictures of their enjoyment of trivial or recreational activities, she referenced a ski trip, while so many Israelis fear for their lives as they just go about their daily routines .

I’ve been struggling with this since I saw her post. The most significant emotion I have felt since reading it is sadness.  I am the son of Holocaust survivors.  I use whatever forum I have to defend and honor the Jewish people and Israel according to my personal interpretation.  I consider myself a realist, very likely due to my parents relaying the stories of what they experienced prior to, and during the Nazi occupation of Holland.  Compassion for my fellow Jews and the awful problems they currently face in the State of Israel is not a feeling I need to dig down deep to feel.  It comes naturally, as it does to so many others.  So my reaction to this person would be nothing but supportive and positive if I would address her directly. The problem I have is a more philosophical one.  Not because I passionately feel one way is right and one way is wrong, but in this case it is because I just don’t know.

From the perspective of supporting her and others like her I would certainly understand toning it down a little, but then the question becomes, where does it end?  I would like to reiterate that I am not making a case in one direction or another since I continue to struggle with this tremendously. If I go out on the weekend should I tone it down?  Forget Facebook, having once lived in Israel and appreciating what it means to all of the Jewish people, am I wrong for going out and having too much fun just days after an 18 year old boy got shot to death and a 21 year old woman got stabbed to death just for being Jewish in Israel?  Have I become so desensitized to the suffering of my own people that I am able to party on the weekend while my fellow Jews in Israel mourn the losses?

I honestly do not know the answer to this question.  Like the rest of you I don’t really have any real frame of reference.  I rationalize with thoughts of, the terrorists want to disrupt our lives so we shouldn’t let them or life must go on no matter how bad the circumstances.  Both of those arguments  are reasonable and by no means eliminate compassion and caring, but I still feel for my Facebook friend and others like her in Israel who might feel better if we expressed a pain more similar to theirs.  Let’s face it.  Although things aren’t getting better, living in America as a Jew is relatively safe and easy. It certainly is in the New York City area.  We can care and empathize all we want for those who live in Israel, but the reality of humanity is that unless you are living it, you don’t really feel it.

There are individuals who have as great of a love and connection towards Israel as anyone else but are presently going through a great time in their lives. Maybe their personal and professional lives are so in sync and successful that everything they would post at this time would be positive, and often an exhibit of pure and exuberant fun.  Are they insensitive if they share it with their friends?  Do they lack compassion? Do they care any less about Israel than anyone else?  I would certainly say that sharing their good fortunes and celebrations of life with people close to them doesn’t make that the case, but nonetheless I wind up back to my friend in Israel and the sadness I feel for her pain, and I wind up no less confused than when I started writing this article.

The answer may just be to take it as it comes.  I have all the respect for my friends’s request while having no negative judgment for the person who posted the picture of their ski trip.  All I can do is try to be as sensitive as possible to the feelings of my brothers and sisters in Israel, and pray very hard that peace comes to them very soon.

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