April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

And Now, What Are We Allowed to Do?

Time is feeling very funny these days. In some ways the days feel endless, and at other times I feel like I’ve lost track of hours. I don’t believe that I’m alone in this experience, nor is it unfamiliar: I’m not very grounded right now. This is fairly common when experiencing a traumatic event; our nervous systems have a hard time “coming down” from anxiety or fear, coupled with grief, heartbreak, disconnection and maybe even some moments of infused adrenaline. And this is all from someone living in New Jersey, where I have the privilege of being able to “disconnect” when able or desired.

Last week I wrote about how many of us are grappling with how to feel. I think that since then, we continue to experience confusion among a range of emotions. Jewish influences on social media have started asking how followers might feel about posting “regular” content. People are unsure of what’s “allowed” right now—is it OK to ask about peoples’ weeks beyond their emotional reaction to the war and other related events?

I believe that it is a mistake to think that there is a cut-and-dried answer to these questions. Some aspects of the situation are very simple, like recognizing hate, terror and wrongdoing. But when it comes to reflecting on how to cope right now, there are very few black-and-white or clear answers.

We are not OK. And still, many of us are functioning. Not all of us, though. And what does functioning mean? What does being OK mean?

We are all surviving a current trauma and the way that each of us does this may look different. Some of us may need to disconnect from the news and social media, while others may be glued to our screens. For some people—television, reading or artwork are the main pastimes, while others lack an ability to focus.

The reality is that there is no wrong way of coping. But the factors that would likely help most amongst the group-level trauma and confusion would be pausing, accepting the feeling or lack thereof and perhaps even communicating our needs. When we acknowledge our privilege, let’s say, in being able to disconnect as we—in the U.S. or Diaspora—are not living in Israel, this typically holds more space for engaging with our emotions. When we identify that the best way to cope and take care of ourselves is by shutting down social media sites, we are connecting to what we need and making active decisions for our needs.

We need to survive. And we will—this is built into our DNA. And the best way of doing so—a form of resistance as I’ve told many individuals this week—is by taking the best care of ourselves possible. This can be physical, which may include recognizing that not getting sleep will not aid anyone. It can also be emotional, like seeking out a safe space to provide unity and support.

There is also no one right way to cope as a group; rather, each of us needs to lean in to the importance of taking care of ourselves as a next step. It is not just about surviving, it is about actively living. Am Yisrael experienced a devastating tragedy and we continue to move through these weeks in a hazy, grief-filled world. We are fearful, focused and/or frozen. It is not just about the lives that were taken; it is about our future. Even when we feel like we are empty, we rise up. That is what we have done and will do as Jews. But the way you rise needs to be particular to you, your needs, and what is most accessible with regard to coping skills.

Prioritize the way you are taking care of yourself. Notice negative self-talk, notice projections and resentments and the ways you may be living in anger and avoidance. There is no wrong way to feel. But it is wrong to punish yourself. Living well is the best revenge, and so while we may not be feeling celebratory, it is important that you live well, which starts by taking care of yourself in all the ways you can. Communicate your needs and prioritize your survival and resistance. And if you feel you cannot take care of yourself, ask for help. We are a strong nation and you are a part of it; even when you may not be feeling strong, know that this is a part of you and you can access this by putting one foot forward in front of the other.

Am Yisrael Chai.


Temimah Zucker, LCSW works in New York and New Jersey with individuals ages 18 and older who are struggling with mental health concerns, and specializes in working with those looking to heal their relationships between their bodies and souls. Zucker is an adjunct professor at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, an advocate and public speaker concerning eating disorder awareness, and a Metro-New York consultant at Monte Nido. To learn more or to reach her, visit www.temimah.com.

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