Standing Strong

Photo provided by author

I know that I am not the only one who is feeling a real “approach, avoidance” to the news.  I cannot bear not to know what is happening, both in Israel and around the world, but I also cannot bear to read the stories and see the images.  Some of the pictures I have seen of destruction and death, of the faces of young children and elders senselessly being held captive play on repeat behind my eyes in the middle of the night as they do, I know, with others.

It is a frightening time for Jews around the world, a time that many of us thought we would never see.  Despite all of the education, despite having traveled to Poland and seeing the concentration camps, despite so many visits to Yad Vashem and Holocaust museums, I have never fully been able to comprehend this kind of inhumanity and brutality.  I know that it happened, I understand the gravity and breadth of this horror and yet, I could not imagine these days, this level of hatred and anti-Semitism, happening again.  That was then and this is now and I, naively, thought that our world was a different place.

But I was wrong.  We are seeing slaughter in Israel and hearing the victims be blamed.  We are watching horrific acts on college campuses and other places that target Jews and condemn Israel for defending herself and her people.  We feel the anger directed not at Israel but at all Jewish people.

Many of my Jewish friends and staff, myself included, have been wearing Stars of David, Chai or hamsa jewelry since October 7.  We’ve donned blue ribbon pins to make visible our commitment to Israel.  Yet I also know that there are many who have tucked these symbols into their clothing when in public, standing proud but with knees that are shaking.

In our world of eldercare services, these world events have hit hard.  Some of our elders have children and grandchildren in Israel.  Others have family members who are fighting in the IDF.  We come together with them to voice our support, to pray and to hope. And yet we also see and feel their real fear and the sense that, as many of them have articulated, all of us are vulnerable.

If we let fear win, then we have lost.  But we must also be conscious of risk, of safety, of the need to protect.  We stand strong and we do it with eyes wide open.  We stand strong, clasping one another’s hands.  We stand strong with tears in our eyes for loss and fear.  We stand not only for Israel. We stand for all of us.

About the Author
Carol Silver Elliott is President and CEO of The Jewish Home Family, which runs NJ's Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jewish Home Assisted Living, Jewish Home Foundation and Jewish Home at Home. She joined The Jewish Home Family in 2014. Previously, she served as President and CEO of Cedar Village Retirement Community in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is past chair of LeadingAge and the Association of Jewish Aging Services.
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