The BJE March teaches powerful lessons of Jewish history and personal Jewish identity with a profound impact on participants. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Los Angeles delegation, along with...
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On Friday, May 15th at 2:30 PM teens, parents and survivors came together through a Zoom meeting to hear the incredible story of Estelle Nadel, BJE March of the Living Holocaust Survivor. While on the March, teens typically have the opportunity to hear the stories of our Survivors each day as we travel from site to site. Since we were not able to do this with teens this year, Survivors will be sharing their stories of resiliency, strength and endurance with teens, family and friends through the BJE March of the Living Survivor Talk series.
Estelle Nadel was only a child when she and her brother escaped Nazi captivity through a tiny window in their jail cell. Once free, Estelle and her brother lived in hiding for two years and ultimately arrived in the United States in 1947. She attributes her survival to singing and music as a personal escape from the horrors she came face to face with.
It took Estelle a long time to start sharing her story of survival but now that she does, she says that she feels called to speak. As a witness to the Holocaust’s horrors, she feels that it is her duty to rebuke those who deny that it happened. “There’s very few survivors left, and a lot of them don’t want to talk about it. I want the world to know that there was a Holocaust.” she said. “There's so much denial, that every time I get a chance to tell my story, I feel like I’m fulfilling something, for something that people are denying.”
Space is limited and will be on a first come, first serve basis. Please contact Liat Vorobiev for a link and log on credentials.
Estelle will also allow time for a few questions at the end. Special thanks to Sabrina Cohensedgh (BJE MOTL 2020 alum from Milken) and Ann Mizrahi (BJE MOTL 2020 alum from de Toledo) for being a part of the planning process. We look forward to having you join us!
It is not unusual for election time to cause stress for people. In 2016, the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that 52% of people who were surveyed reported that the election was a source of stress, and in 2020, 68% of survey respondents reported that the upcoming election was causing them stress. It’s not surprising that the election is causing elevated stress given all that we are going through right now. It’s been a stressful year all around. Yet, it is important to pause and think about what this stress represents and what we can do to help children and teens during this election time.
Let’s begin by identifying some specific sources of stress. One source of stress is something political scientists refer to as “social sorting” where people associate ideology and identity with specific political parties. This can lead to increased animosity, with attacks becoming personal. Another source of stress is the length of the election cycle. It feels like it will never end which results in feeling consistently in a state of high alert. This, in turn, can lead to increased anxiety, frustration and feeling overwhelmed. Finally, there are the questions that keep many of us up late at night: Will my vote count? What will my future look like if a specific candidate wins? How will things change or stay the same come January?
Let’s Begin With You
In 2016, psychologist Dr. Stephen Stosny coined the term “election stress disorder” to describe the increased amount of distress calls he and other psychologists were getting. So if you are anxious, upset, overwhelmed or feeling irritable, the number one warning sign of election stress disorder, it’s time to take action!
Now Let’s Talk About Your Children
As if this weren’t stressful enough, Election Stress Disorder magnifies parents' concerns about how their children and teens are processing everything they see and hear. It is a parent’s responsibility (but also an opportunity) to take steps to help their children make sense out of what is going on. Children are like barometers, they know when things are off even if they cannot articulate what is not right. So what can parents do?
Michelle Porjes, Ed.S. is the Director of BJE's Project EnAble, a program funded in part by a generous Cutting Edge Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, as a resource for student support services at Jewish day schools.
Managing Election Stress, Psychology Today
Jews, today, are free to openly express their Jewish identity in any number of ways. Alternatively, a Jew can consciously or otherwise remain distant from anything distinctively Jewish. These choices were not always available. Until recent centuries, a Jew generally had to join another faith community to sever ties with Jews and Judaism, and those who were part of the Jewish community were expected to abide by fixed norms. As Jewish communal ties waned and Jewishness became, increasingly, a matter of choice, a literature developed, through which authors shared the opportunity that is Judaism with Jews disengaged from Jewish tradition.
In 1836, Samson Raphael Hirsch, a rabbi serving the Jewish community of Oldenburg (Germany), wrote a short book articulating a case for commitment to traditional Jewish thought and practice in the modern world. Known as The Nineteen Letters, Hirsch’s work was framed as an exchange of letters between a rabbi and a young intellectual who questioned Judaism’s relevance to contemporary life. It attracted wide readership, leading to many further publications by the author, and was translated to English for American readers, in 1899.
In 1947 a prominent American rabbi, Milton Steinberg, authored Basic Judaism, aimed not only at “believing Jews,” but at “that large body of heretofore indifferent Jews who, whether in response to pressures from without or voids within, are groping to establish rapport with the Jewish Tradition….” In 1975, two young American Jews, Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin, co-authored a book titled Eight Questions People Ask About Judaism. They addressed Jews skeptical as to whether Jewish wisdom offered anything meaningful to Jews living in modern Western society.
In 1959, Herman Wouk, already an accomplished literary figure, wrote This Is My God, a manifesto setting forth his personal understanding of Judaism and its enduring message. In 1995, David Wolpe, who had previously authored several books on aspects of Jewish thought, published a volume titled Why Be Jewish? After sharing perspectives drawn from his encounter with the classical texts of Judaism, Rabbi Wolpe noted that “the answer to why be Jewish must reside in the mystery of each seeking soul, trying to find its place with others and with God.” The above-referenced books are but a sampling of a continuing literature exploring the meaning that Judaism can hold for contemporary Jews and others interested in the wisdom expressed in its biblical and rabbinic texts.
The Torah, described in the closing chapters of Deuteronomy (33:4) as “the heritage of the congregation of Jacob,” is a starting point for exploring the richness of Jewish teaching. Rabbinic tradition long ago recognized that, though Torah is described in the Book of Proverbs (3:18) as “a tree of life to those who hold fast to it,” human perspectives are diverse; thus, “there are seventy faces to the Torah” (Numbers Rabbah 13:15-16). Those who return each year to re-engage with Torah from the beginning of Genesis come with a fresh lens, refined by another year’s life experiences. The start of a new cycle of Torah study this week is an opportunity to encounter an enduring text that enriches the life of the individual and links the Jewish people across place and time.
Dr. Gil Graff is the Executive Director at BJE.
On Friday, May 15th at 2:30 PM teens, parents and survivors came together through a Zoom meeting to hear the incredible story of Estelle Nadel, BJE March of the Living Holocaust Survivor. While on the March,...
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