June 22, 2024
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We Must Brace Ourselves and Pace Ourselves

Pamela Becker volunteering at Israeli strawberry fields.

October 7, 2023 might be the most terrible day in the history of Israel. It is also the first day of what could be a long process.

 

Glimmers of Light in The Darkness

Before this crisis, Israel was deeply divided. Political and ideological differences seemed insurmountable. And yet, when the worst happened, the Israeli community came together to protect and support each other. Citizens organized the distribution of clothes and supplies for the hundreds of thousands displaced from the south and the north as well as the soldiers who left their homes and families with little notice to join the war effort.

Protective vests and specialized equipment arrive from destinations around the world. Pots of homemade food are delivered daily. Tens of thousands of dry-fit tzitzit are prepared and delivered to male soldiers throughout the country. Volunteers even set up portable laundromats for the soldiers on extended duty.

With much of the workforce serving in the reserves, many businesses have slowed down. Several industries, such as tourism, have come to a complete halt, leaving owners and their employees in financial limbo. While many of the country’s businesses are on pause, agriculture does not have that luxury. Over half the Thai workers who managed the fields until now have flown home. Again, the country mobilized. Early each morning, volunteers roll up their sleeves and join the agricultural effort to save the local produce and the farmers’ livelihoods.

At this time when we feel our most hated and isolated, the tremendous outpouring of emotional and financial support, prayers and impactful social media posts from the Jewish community in the United States and around the world not only meet immediate physical needs but lift our spirits and shine some light in the darkness.

Children at a Jeremy’s Circle event during a happier time.

This Is Not a Fleeting Moment

We must brace ourselves and pace ourselves for a long war and an even longer recovery. It will take months to rid Gaza of the Hamas military infrastructure, carefully hidden within an intricate web of tunnels under civilian locations such as hospitals, mosques and children’s parks.

There will be many losses. Already, too many have died, but in the continued operations we can expect more fallen soldiers and more Israeli and Gazan civilians injured and killed in the crossfire. The global media, the U.N., your coworkers and your neighbors may blame and censure Israel. They may even blame you.

In addition to the blows from the world media, Israel’s economy has taken a terrible beating. Whole communities need to be rebuilt, including their businesses. Many industries will need support to recover.

 

The Scars Left by
This Crisis Run Deep

The country is so small that every Israeli is either in mourning or knows someone in mourning. And we are all praying for the hundreds of kidnapped children and adults to return home safely. How do we help each other cope with all this? How can we help each other feel safe again after all that has happened? We can’t do it alone.

And of course, all the problems that we, as individuals and as a society, had before the war have not gone away. Israel’s social and therapeutic services were overbooked even before COVID hit, and today are stretched painfully thin. Domestic violence and spousal killings rose dramatically in the first nine months of 2023, and as a result of the war, handguns will be more readily available with fewer checks. Special needs children will continue to require extra assistance. The elderly living in poverty before the war will remain poor but with fewer resources to support them.

Life-threatening medical conditions like cancer do not stop because the nation is at war, but access to timely treatment might. At Jeremy’s Circle, we support children growing up with cancer in their families. These kids were already living with fear and uncertainty before any of this happened. The war means they now have two battles for survival to fight, and our work is more important than ever.

Israel’s vulnerable populations collectively will become more vulnerable. We will require long-term investment across multiple fronts—social, medical, residential, agricultural, industrial, and more.

 

Commitment and Care

It inspires me how, as a Jewish people, when we were hit so hard, instead of striking back in rage, the global Jewish community responded with love. We have tremendous resilience, in part built on the healing power of helping.

We can redirect our feelings of despair and helplessness into action with volunteerism and activism. We can donate funds to help ensure needs are met but at the same time, we must pace ourselves and manage expectations. To make a difference, volunteerism and activism is not a one-off. We must contribute in ways to have a long-term impact without harming our well-being. We must take care of ourselves as we take care of each other.

Together—the American, Israeli and global Jewish community—we can overcome terrifying obstacles and recover from them. In our darkest hours, we have seen rays of light from the global Jewish family. Together we can protect and rebuild our shared future.


Originally from New York, Pamela Becker has enjoyed a long career as a marketing executive for some of Israel’s leading technology companies including WhizzCo, ironSource, and SafeCharge (acquired by nuvei). After she was widowed with three small children in 2008, Pamela co-founded and remains the active chairperson of the Israeli charity Jeremy’s Circle, supporting children and teens coping with cancer or cancer loss in their young families. Pamela lives with her husband and their five children in Tel Aviv.

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