Turning Anger Into Hope

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Ellen Geller Kamaras 

 

The brutal massacre, the abduction of hostages, and the unprovoked war against Israel on October 7th has triggered for us a myriad of feelings including despair, depression, fear, pain, and anger.    

 

Channeling Anger 

 

How can we channel our anger and pain into positive actions and sustain hope and optimism while we fight for the eradication of Hamas and do everything in our power to bring the hostages home? 

 

Psychologists explain that anger is not a negative emotion nor does it need to be conquered. Anger is necessary for our wellbeing and aids us in identifying when something is not right and requires attention.  Anger propels people to face and overcome obstacles.  It is different than rage, which is anger that feels out of control.  Using anger as a motivator and a tool for positive change can become a life-changing skill and can inspire self-improvement and leadership against injustice. 

 

A Renewed Sense of Unity in Israel 

Israeli citizens of all political and religious stripes, from right-wing to liberal, and from religious to secular, are rallying behind Israel. Reservists who had previously refused to appear for reserve duty were waiting in line to serve when the war broke out.  Reservists, many on treks or on vacations far away, flew home to Israel from around the world.   

 

This amazing unity has been driven by the view that this war poses an existential threat to Israeli society, its security, and its Zionist and democratic values.  

 

More Israeli soldiers are putting on tzitzit as volunteers work tirelessly to tie tzitzit strings on the corners of the garments. More Israeli men are also putting on tefillin. 

 

Have you watched videos of soldiers stopping to pray and sing at various sites in Gaza, including in synagogues?  Sifrei Torah were brought to the front.  Israeli soldiers of varying religious backgrounds are meshing beautifully in one unit to eliminate Hamas, free the hostages, and secure Israel’s future. 

 

Renewed Unity for Jews Outside of Israel 

Jews in Galut have also been rethinking their priorities and what it means to be a Jew in the U.S., England, and other countries.  Women and men are going back to shul, lighting Shabbat candles, and displaying their Jewish identity by wearing Stars of David, kippot, and Bring Them Home Now necklace tags.   

 

Today, I read a message from an Israeli soldier thanking a shul group for their prayers, and urging them to continue.  We all have paused to say a prayer to Hashem, asking for His help, when experiencing obstacles or when a loved one is sick.  We must maintain our prayers for the speedy return of our hostages, the protection of our soldiers and Israel residents, and the refuah shelema of our holim and our injured soldiers. 

 

Please join a Tehillim group on WhatsApp or on Zoom, or recite a few chapters on your own.   You can sign up to be matched with a Torah partner, where you and your partner commit to studying ten minutes a week in the merit of an Israeli soldier. Go to: partnersinprotection.org/iotg. 

 

Consider taking on a new mitzvah or add an extra chapter of Tehillim to your prayers. 

 

 

Volunteer 

 

Volunteer in your hometown or in Israel.  You can help raise funds for Israel in your synagogue or for a particular organization.  My friend Marilyn packed boots for the soldiers for the last four months. Schools, shuls, and community organizations are still sending duffels filled with warm clothing and equipment for soldiers,  

 

People are going on missions to Israel and working on kibbutzim and other places with labor shortages.  They are also visiting Israel to show their solidarity and their gratitude to the soldiers who are not just fighting for Israel but for Jews around the world.  Volunteers are visiting displaced Israelis and wounded soldiers and citizens. 

 

Advocate for Israel 

 

Advocate for Israel in your local communities and schools and write to President Biden and to your local senators, congressional representatives, politicians, and community leaders.  There are templates supplied by organizations that make it very easy to email, the president, your senator, or congressman. 

 

In Conclusion 

 

Be united and be there for each other and find comfort in your community. Be patient with others as we continue to process Israel’s largest-ever mass casualty event, the daily losses, and the daily news reports. Pray for the return of the hostages, for safety for all Jews, and for peace.  

 

I leave you with the words of UJA -Federation CEO Eric Goldstein, “Transforming the pain is key. Otherwise, as Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt notes, ‘We cede control of our identity to our oppressors.’”