Find ‘1 word’ to cope

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

The images and sounds come at us from our TVs and computers as we try to make sense and find a way to get through until the next report, hoping for good news. For me, and for many of you, we turn off the devices and read everything possible from every direction not just to gain understanding but to find hope. As “people of the book,” reading and study is our way of understanding and yet there is even too much to read, looking to find the answers to the many questions. We also look for the right words for the questions and even the prayers — again, are there any words to help us make sense of what is happening and what will happen next?

And who am I to offer more words that will resonate? So I challenge you to find the words and meanings that are inside of you. There have been a number of books and articles written about a process called “One Word.” The idea is to find the one word that will guide and focus you for the year. Many group leaders have suggested that we find our “one word” for the day or for the experience. It is a way to check into how you are feeling and by naming the feeling we can manage it. At this time, we are moving through so many feelings (and all feelings are acceptable) — by knowing the feeling, we accept both the feeling and ourselves. Try it when feeling overwhelmed with the many emotions each of us is feeling right now. Name it, describe it, share it — here are a few from Sari Kopitnikoff (

Horrified — since hearing the news out of Israel

Pained — It hurts to think about all those who are hurting.

Exasperated — with all the growing hate, online and offline

Scared — as I worry about the safety of people I love (whether I know them or not)

Confused — unsure what to think, what to say, what to do…

Blessed — I feel fortunate to be part of the Jewish people, and I’m inspired by the kindness and heroism happening.

Hopeful — G-d, and good, will prevail. Am Yisrael Chai!

What are your words?

Laura Seymour is Jewish experiential learning director and camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.

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