Starting any conversation with, “Hey, how are you?” is a hard habit to break. And so this week, each time the Hey Alma team has gathered on a Zoom call, I find myself asking, “Hey, how are you?” but I already know the answer. We are not doing well.
The news coming out of Israel is at once horrifying to take in and impossible to ignore. Nearly 1000 Jews have been murdered, and that number is only rising. Innocent civilians have been killed, kidnapped, brutalized, desecrated. Entire families have been wiped out — babies, children, grandparents, and everyone in between. And we know that this is only the beginning of a prolonged war in which so many people across nationalities and religions, across cities and borders, will be harmed and worse.
Honestly, our sadness knows no bounds.
At Hey Alma, we have spent the last six years building up a virtual Jewish community. And like any community, especially a Jewish one, we know that means that while we all may have some big things in common — we are Jewish, or we are part of a Jewish family, and we are proud of our Jewish identities — from there, we often don’t agree. We know that so many of us have complicated feelings about Israel, complicated feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, complicated feelings about the best ways to ensure both Israelis’ and Palestinians’ right to live in peace and safety.
And we know that in a moment like this, what we most desire is a way to come together, to grieve and process together, to know that we are not alone.
We want to be that space for you.
Over on our Instagram account, we’ve been asking our community how they are feeling, and so many of you have been refreshingly honest and forthcoming. We are going to share some of those messages below. Maybe reading through them, you will see that you are not isolated in feeling the way you feel. Maybe they will give you the words you’re looking for to share with friends who don’t quite understand what it feels like to be Jewish right now. And maybe we will see that while we’re all coming from our own unique blend of backgrounds and views, there’s really so much we have in common, and the same goals — peace, safety, hope, understanding — that we want in the end.
How Are You Doing?
My emotions feel turned off, but my body is keeping the score. No appetite, weird rash, no energy…
Hurt. Lost friends for simply mourning innocent lives lost in the attack.
Not well. Feel like I need a social media/news break but also can’t look away.
I feel helpless. Halfway across the world from the war and I feel like praying isn’t enough. It’s so unfair.
Feeling very conflicted as a non-practicing Jew with no direct ties to Israel.
I feel paralyzed between heartbreak, anger and the unknown. I feel like all I can do is pray.
I’m just so stressed right now. I have no idea if my friends or family are dead, alive or kidnapped.
Frustrated because being Jewish AND leftist/anti-colonization is really difficult right now in Jewish spaces.
Tired of being the token person to explain this conflict to my peers when I’m not an expert.
I’m angry at people trying to force me to be either wholly, uncritically pro-Israel or pro-Palestine.
I feel broken and scared, but so grateful for this community and the love we have for one another.
What does it feel like to be Jewish right now?
Lonely. Not a single non-Jewish friend has reached out.
It’s extremely hard and isolating to be an anti-Zionist American Jew right now.
It feels crazy. My instinct is to feel completely alone. Trying to remind myself I’m, we’re, not.
I’ve been in the conversion process for a year. Judaism has shown me nothing but love. I am SO PROUD to almost be Jewish. And I’m so heartbroken right now.
Like treading water but losing energy.
Right now, being Jewish is feeling immense grief for people you didn’t even know, but feel like your own.
For the first time, I just don’t feel safe.
I feel like there is no space in public for the complexity I’m negotiating in my identities and commitments.
I feel like I’m part of a debate I never asked to be involved in.
I’m scared to walk around campus as a Jew right now, because of the things I’ve seen my classmates post.
Confusing. I love Judaism and I want freedom for Palestinians.
I’m so scared, but I also am keeping my necklaces on. My mezuzot are staying on my doors.
I don’t feel safe talking about this with non-Jews because they just do not understand the complexity.
What do you want your friends to know?
It hurts to not have more non-Jewish people check in on me.
The silence and lack of checking in is truly heartbreaking.
It feels lonely despite the unity in our own community. People excusing terrorism hurts deeply.
Feels like I’m living in a parallel universe from my non-Jewish friends. Completely surreal watching you live normal lives right now.
Being Jewish/Israeli =/= being anti-Palestinian. We are hurting for them too.
Stop equating support of Jews with support of Israel.
We just want to live in peace. We don’t want civilians to die on *any* side. People are not their government.
I need a hug please, and space to mourn.
I might seem or act OK to get through the day, but I’m constantly on the verge of tears.
Words literally don’t fucking describe this.
All my non-Jewish friends who reached out made a difference.