The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Friday, June 21, 2024
The Jewish Observer

Heart of the Matter December 2023

On the morning of October 7, I turned on the news and learned about the horrors happening in Israel. My heart sank as I watched the images of hostages being taken. Their faces reminded me of people in our own Jewish community and I couldn’t help but think the only difference between this community and the Kibbutzim is location. The sadness, shock, and horror in our community was palpable. Many of us felt helpless. The tragedy hit home for me when I had a meeting at Akiva a few days later. As those beautiful Jewish children emerged from their classrooms, it brought tears to my eyes because in my mind’s eye, I was seeing children from Israel. 

True to the tradition of Tikkun Olam, we sprang into action and began addressing the needs of our community. We put together a survey to hear what individuals wanted, we offered free counseling sessions related to the war, we offered a Beads for Israel program, support groups and a planned interactive art project. JFS is no stranger to disaster responses, but this was personal. This one brought us to our knees, left us speechless for a moment and has left a scar on our hearts.  

In addition to caring for the Nashville Jewish community, we opened our hearts and resources to Israeli evacuees. JFS arranged kosher food, housing, transportation, medical care and provided social and emotional support for Israelis passing through and Israelis staying for a while. As social workers, we had the privilege of interacting with the evacuees in basic but meaningful ways to help provide a place of refuge for the time being.  

 A few of my favorite moments have been seeing pictures of Israeli children smiling and having fun with donated art boxes from Eileen Wallach, hearing the excitement from a relative as I tell him the teenager he is caring for can join in sports with JMS and Kehilla High School. Then there was hearing the relief from a family who just received a new refrigerator we were able to purchase at a reduced rate from Electronic Express and can now store a week’s worth of groceries for their large family. And the moments when someone entrusts you with their experiences and feelings about the war and you can see their burden become a little lighter as we listen to every word. It’s all about making connections with Jews in a time of need and connecting them with the community whenever possible. 

For the next few months, you will hear from various staff at JFS about the work we have been doing since the war began in more detail. Being the Clinical Director, puts me in the prime position of watching all the love and support our community has to offer each other whether it be a local resident or a brother or sister from Israel.   

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