I’ve never used the word “reeling” more than I have during the past few weeks. Our world has turned upside down. The expression we’ve all uttered so many times in our lives, “Never Again,” is no longer. We now unfortunately say, “Never Again Is Now.”
Most of us spend much of our time thinking “how can we help,” because there is nothing more important than helping our Jewish brethren in Israel.
As for me, I am grateful because I’m finding the strength to help in different ways. I use the word “grateful” very intentionally because not only am I helping in a hopefully meaningful way, but I’m also keeping myself busy.
Let me backtrack a bit.
As some of you may remember, I got connected to The Jewish Link primarily because during COVID I created a Facebook group for Upper West Side Jewish residents, and The Link wrote it up as a nice community news story.
The impetus for the group was an idea that we needed to connect during the pandemic for practical help: Where do we buy our Pesach food? Where do we get a vaccine? But make no mistake about it: The conviction to act on the idea was, quite simply, the fear of being alone.
I’m single. If I didn’t find different ways to occupy my time during COVID, I’m not sure how I would have made it through those many, many months. We were not allowed to be with others and, with that, my lifeline was extinguished.
Kal Vachomer now, how much more so we do not want to be alone. The horror of the war in Israel is unfathomable. We are mourning the dead, and davening for the missing and the hostages to be returned to us, and for the safety of our chayalim, their families and Israel as a nation. And when we are not doing that, we are watching with incredulity the antisemitism that is unfolding worldwide.
Sometime before October 7, which feels like eons ago, there was a bit of noise in our community to, essentially, pay closer attention to singles.
Perhaps there is no better time to bring up that message than now, when we feel like we’re in a nationwide, ongoing communal shiva. Let no person walk through these days alone.
What can we do? We can invite someone who is alone for a Shabbat meal. We can go for a walk with someone who needs to talk. We can pick up the phone and give someone a call. We can spontaneously bring flowers to someone, just because.
I’m not naive enough to think that only singles feel alone during these times. People who are together can feel alone. So maybe the message of this article is let’s all look out for each other a bit more than we did before October 7.
My rabbi beat me to the punch on this, but in an email to our shul congregation last week he recognized a similar sentiment. Rabbi Dr. Yosie Levine of The Upper West Side’s Jewish Center wrote: “Since the very beginning, we’ve been encouraging everyone to reach out to friends and family in Israel. We have to keep calling and keep reaching out. But I would add, too, that everyone—including those not in Israel—could benefit from a call … because everyone is inconsolable. We may not be able to help anyone feel better, but maybe we can help them feel less alone. And maybe in the process, we’ll feel less alone.”
Judith Falk is the creator of the Upper West Side Shtetl Facebook Group. You can follow her on instagram @upperwestsideshtetl. She is a lawyer by day and a former legal reporter. And, she’s single.