April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

If I were to make an infomercial about the current situation for Jews in America, it might sound something like this: “Are you having trouble sleeping at night? Are you obsessed with the news? With Israel? Hamas? Gaza? Antisemitism? Are you spending all your free time scrolling through Facebook, Twitter (X) and YouTube?” If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then I have the solution for you — unplug! Disconnect from the news and social media and soon you will be able to sleep at night, feel calmer and be happier.” The question is, does it make sense to sacrifice information for some uninformed bliss?

When my children were young, I tried to stay in touch with ideas and trends that were interesting to them. I read/listened to the entire “Harry Potter” series and later “The Hunger Games,” and watched “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. I watched other movies and shows that I found silly but my kids found funny. I listened to some of the music that they liked even if it had little or no appeal to me. When the internet and computers started becoming the norm in most homes, I gave in and bought a computer, set up a landline (remember those?), and learned how to email and use the computer. As my family grew and matured, so did our discussions. We never shied away from uncomfortable topics or conflicting viewpoints, recognizing the value of open dialogue, and enjoyed searching for and acquiring more knowledge. But how much is too much?

Since Oct. 7, like many others, I’ve found myself consumed by the constant influx of news and social media updates, particularly regarding the situation in Israel.

My own Facebook and YouTube feeds look something like this: a note from someone I am following in Israel about a worthy cause to donate to; a beautiful, heartbreaking picture of a Israeli soldier who fell in battle in Gaza; a clip about a whale interacting with people on a boat; a scene from some random sitcom; a post from Never Forget Jewish Lives Matter; a short video on how to get amazing abs in five minutes a day; an update on the Hamas war; a presentation from Elon Levy; a message about events for special needs adults and children; a recent shiur; a request from someone looking for cleaning help or a caterer for their son’s bar mitzvah; insights into local politics; a cure for plantar fasciitis; and an advertisement for a dress that if purchased, could change my life!

This past weekend, I watched on my social media the Palestinian supporters rallying outside Congregation Keter Torah screaming “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free” and “One Solution: Intifada.” I heard someone shout “terrorists” at the people in a car driving by the shul with an Israeli flag. And I read on Facebook that a friend who was leaving the event on Sunday had a red paintball thrown at her car.

While I did not watch the Academy Awards, my social media feed was full of information about which of the stars were wearing a red pin (a symbol that apparently now stands for support of a ceasefire by Israel.) None of the Hollywood stars were wearing yellow ribbons, a symbol for the safe return of the hostages. With some exceptions, most of the Jewish actors and directors have unfortunately not stood up for Israel during this crisis. But the Oscar for “Most Offensive Presentation of the Evening” went to director Jonathan Glazer. Glazer directed the award-winning movie “The Zone of Interest,” the story about the commandant of Auschwitz Rudolf Höss and his wife Hedwig, and how they tried to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to the concentration camp. Upon accepting the award for his film, Glazer read from a prepared speech, stating, “Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.” He then continued, “Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization—how do we resist?”

I never watch the Oscars and I would not have known about Glazer’s horrific remarks had I not found them on my social media. Had I not read about the speech, it obviously would still have been delivered; by not seeing or reading about it, I cannot magically make an event not happen. What, then, can we do, individually and as a community, to help ease our feelings of anger, depression and at times dejection when flooded with sometimes unwanted stories? Should we “unplug?” Even if we wanted to disconnect for the sake of our own sanity, could we? How does the constant barrage of negative information impact you?

My drug of choice has always been sweets—ice cream coming in as my Oscar award-winning food. On Sunday night, I was so upset that I ate large quantities of sweet food. I know better, I coach my clients and teach strategies about stress eating, but I could not listen to my own advice on Sunday night, having been inundated with so many disturbing images. Many of my clients tell me they can’t get to sleep at night because they cannot put away their devices. Some members of my own family spend (waste?) time responding to “haters” on blogs and websites. We clearly cannot simply erase the realities of our world by turning a blind eye. Instead, we must find a balance between staying informed and protecting our mental health. This means setting boundaries, committing to disconnect from our devices at times, and engaging in activities that bring us joy and peace.

It won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. But by prioritizing our emotional well-being and taking small steps toward self-care, we can regain control over our lives. Next time you feel overwhelmed by the endless stream of negativity, consider unplugging for a while.

Take a walk, read a book or simply enjoy a moment of quiet reflection. They may seem insignificant, but these small acts of self-care can have a profound impact on our mental and emotional health. And in a world that too often feels chaotic and overwhelming, prioritizing our well-being is now more important than ever. So let’s unplug, recharge and reclaim our sanity, one step at a time.


Beth S. (Bassie) Taubes, RN, CHC, CYT, is the owner of Wellness Motivations LLC. She motivates clients of all backgrounds, ages and health conditions to engage in improved self-care through nutritional counseling, personal fitness training, yoga practice, breath training, tai chi, and stress reduction techniques. She is also the rebbetzin of Congregation Zichron Mordechai in Teaneck. She can be reached at [email protected] or wellnessmotivationsbt.com.

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