OU Israel, in partnership with the Efrat municipality, held an emotional evening of chizuk for newly-immigrated mothers from English-speaking countries including the United States, Canada, and England, whose children are on the front lines. Paula Stern, creator of the blog “Mother of a Soldier,” Dr. Naomi Baum, who deals with anxiety management and resilience development, and Rabbanit Noa Lewis, participated in the event held at the Zayit Raanan synagogue. OU Israel is planning future events to be held in Ma’ale Adumim and other Anglo communities.
Paula Stern, creator of the blog “Mother of a Soldier,” and who runs a Facebook group of 2,500 mothers of English-speaking soldiers in the IDF stated: “The best advice I can give to mothers of soldiers is to accept that the only thing they are obligated to do is breathe. You don’t have to raise funds for ceramic vests and helmets, make meals, go to ceremonies. All you have to do is breathe and focus on surviving this difficult time. And as much as possible, tell yourself that you will worry tomorrow and not today. And tomorrow never comes because when it comes, it is today. And today, concentrate on not imagining, not worrying.”
Dr. Naomi Baum, mother and grandmother of five boys in the army (four sons in miluim and one grandson on active duty), talked about what can help during this time and how to stay resilient: “Remember, every mother has her own ability for resilience. What works for you may not necessarily work for your neighbor or your friend, or even your husband. Be accepting of differences. Find what works for you. That might be through volunteering, saying Tehillim, helping with the grandchildren, or none of the above." Baum emphasized the importance of routine. “Routine gives a sense of control and stability, things that are lacking these days. In general, give yourself room for ‘self-compassion,’ which means treating yourself as you would treat your best friend - with love, understanding, and kindness."
Rabbanit Noa Lewis stated: “When we fight Hamas, it is a war of light against the darkness. But the struggle between good and evil is not just waged on the battlefield, but also in my home, in my community, when I do a good deed and do not speak lashon hara, and when I stay positive and involve myself in chesed, I am also fighting Hamas. This is the war of giving light in the dark, and everyone is a small candle. When I am on a mission, the fear does not come."
Rabbanit Zemira Ozarowski, Director of Women's Programs at OU Israel, stated: “Your sons and daughters are great heroes, who go to war with the belief in the right of the people of Israel to this land. But this ability to serve the nation like this can only come from the brave and wonderful mothers like you who raised your children on the belief in Zionism, nationalism, and heritage. As mothers, you made the decision to leave your whole lives behind and immigrate to Israel in the middle of your life. You instilled in your children a love for the Land of Israel and the people of Israel, and thanks to you they are ready to sacrifice their lives to protect the homeland of the Jewish people. You should be proud of yourselves for the children you raised. You are the real neshei chayil!”
“We sat around a table and connected. Every mother was able to identify with being a mother of soldiers serving, with individual experiences, being reminded to simply breathe. We will all get through this collectively and individually," said program participant Elana Kronenberg.
Rabbi Avi Berman, Executive Director of OU Israel, said: “I speak for myself, the OU and the entire Jewish people when I say that we have enormous appreciation for you. A woman who grew up in Israel and became a mother here has been ingrained with Israel’s security and military situation her whole life. This situation is not easy, but she has experience from her father, brothers, husband and cousins serving in the army. Most of you merited to make Aliyah. You chose to come here and send your children to the IDF, and having a child called up to fight a war is a new experience for most of you. Therefore, we express our deepest appreciation for what you and your children serving in the IDF are doing now, and we are here to offer our support as you grapple with this new situation.”