Talya Woolf

Serious mental exhaustion

December 13, 2024

Today’s headline on Times of Israel: Ten soldiers, including two senior officers, killed in Gaza fighting and deadly ambush

The mood in Israel is very dependent on the news from the past twelve hours. This time, the news hasn’t been great. The IDF death toll is at 115 after losing ten more last night in an ambush.

My husband guarded a funeral procession yesterday for an IAF soldier and my friend has a funeral to go to tomorrow. My coworker’s friend lost a son this week, and my best friend told me yesterday that her boss’s son is attending the funeral of his friend, someone he served with.

Rains in Netanya. Photo credit: Talya Woolf

Almost as if in response to the losses, the heavens opened up last night – lightning, thunder – pouring out all the pent-up rage and heart-wrenching tears that we have for our soldiers and their families, for the hostages, for the children and women, for the families wrenched apart and never again the same, against Hamas and those who are funding and causing this war.

We didn’t start it, but, by G-d, we will end it.

The question is not whether we will win (in the south, then the north). The question is, what will the cost of the war be? The human cost… the mental and emotional price… we will all never be the same again. Especially our children.

According to a recent study conducted by the Israeli Pediatric Association and the Goshen Association, more than 83% of children (Jewish and Arab) have been experiencing distress since the outbreak of the war. As for their parents, the situation is dire as well. 36% of them reported dealing with emotional distress, and 39% with feelings of anxiety. Another alarming statistic reveals that only 14% of parents reported seeking any form of support.

I can say with certainty that my children are having the same issues. Just before the release of hostages started, my oldest, almost ten, came home from a youth group event sad and upset, “they took 4-year olds!” My 5yo daughter wants to learn krav maga so she can defend herself against bad guys. My youngest sleeps even worse than she usually does and is more clingy than ever. And all four say the prayer for the soldiers regularly, drawing them pictures, and writing them letters.

I’m under additional pressure. My husband is now in his second month of miluim around our city and it’s very serious. Practically another full-time job, I’m now increasing what I’m doing around the house, taking krav maga weekly, and trying to manage with worsening sleep.

I’d say that I’m getting better at compartmentalizing everything and seeing and hearing about tragedies, but it might be that I’m either becoming inoculated to it or I’m just too tired to have it effect me. I’m not entirely sure.

I took part in an art project for the hostages over the weekend. Took two hours and sketched a portrait of my assigned abductee: Sgt. Matan Agrest. It’s not done, but it’s good enough for the video that’s being put together. I keep him in mind every day for his safe return.

Chanukah has been lovely though. We’ve been very busy creating happy and positive memories for the kids. Throughout all the darkness, we must remember to not just survive, but live, to be who we are, Jewish, loud, proud, and strong.

So share your love and your purpose – I’d love to see it. The world needs to hear our stories about how we thrive and never, ever let anyone else dim our light!

6th night of Chankuah 5784. Photo credit: Talya Woolf
About the Author
Talya Woolf is an eight-year Olah with four spirited children and a fantastic husband. She is a writer, American-licensed attorney, handgun instructor, amateur photographer, and artist. She is politically confusing, Modern Orthodox (though she doesn't dress the part), and ardent Zionist (ZFB). She enjoys spending time with family, friends, running, photography, and reading about highly contagious diseases and WWII.
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