Why is this day different from all others?

Published: October 13, 2023
Category: FamilyMental HealthStories

(Photo by: William Miller, New York Post)

Yesterday, Hamas terrorists declared today (October 13) as a “Global Day of Jihad,” which heightened anxiety and triggered enhanced security precautions throughout North America.

For the past few years, being a Jewish person on the Upper West Side of Manhattan means that as I enter communal spaces such as the JCC (Jewish Community Center, which is open to people of all faiths, cultures, and nationalities) and my synagogue, I am met with armed security guards. It’s a chilling fact of life. On the one hand, it makes us feel somewhat secure that there are tangible deterrents put in place that guard our safety—such as opening one’s backpack before entering the house of worship, or walking through a metal detector before starting a workout at the gym. At the same time, it’s a horrifying reminder that anti-Jewish violence has spiked dramatically throughout the United States. 

In 2022, the Anti Defamation League (ADL) tabulated 3,697 antisemitic incidents, the highest number on record since the ADL started recording incidents in 1979, and the third time in five years that it has been the highest ever recorded. Calculated anti-Jewish terrorist acts (hate crimes) have ripped apart communities—from the mass murder of congregants at The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the hate shooting at the JC Kosher supermarket in Jersey City, or the bombing of the JCC in Argentina. 

I learned about this declaration of global jihad through numerous phone calls and texts from friends and colleagues calling to check in on myself and my family or suggest that we stay home today. In spite of this horrific declaration from Hamas, I decided to get out of bed this morning and embarked on my daily walk to the JCC to work out on the elliptical machine and then swim for 30 minutes. I often blog about the physical, emotional, and mental health benefits of exercise and movement, sharing the latest discoveries from the science of wellbeing. Since the Hamas terror attack started just last weekend, (it feels like months ago) my workouts have helped calm my jagged nerves after a restless night punctuated by nightmare images. After early morning calls with family and friends in Israel to let them know they are not alone, it’s also comforting to hear from close friends, family, neighbors, professional colleagues, and people who want to express their support.  

Yesterday I picked up my four-year-old granddaughter from her school. Just a couple of weeks ago, she was so proud in the adorable way young children experience awe and wonder when discovering new things as she shared special songs she had learned for Rosh Hashana. She showed me the artwork she made in the classroom with apples and honey. Yesterday as we collected her unicorn scooter and rainbow bookbag, I was grateful to spend leisure time watching her enjoy every single bite of her strawberry ice-cream with rainbow sprinkles. I was also reminded of the years when my sons were in Jewish day schools and the fact that these communal spaces were also terror targets. 

Please reach out to anyone you know in need of connection and support during this crisis.

I’m sending you strength and love,

Lisa

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