By Laura Seymour
Every day the news is filled with what is happening in Israel and Gaza and I am sure many of your home conversations are on the subject as well. Many years ago there was an article by Sharon Estroff, who is an internationally syndicated Jewish parenting columnist, award-winning Jewish educator and mother of four, titled “How to Tell Kids About the Mideast Conflict.” She writes about researching the topic of talking about war with kids, and the guidelines are about easing anxiety of images in the media (the fighting is far away) and talking about the bad guys that the army is fighting. However, she reminds us that our relationship to Israel makes this a different topic. Our children have been waving blue-and-white flags, learning Hebrew and singing “Hatikvah” since preschool — Israel is part of who we are! This is not a distant war! Here are some of her ideas:
•Give the good with the bad. Yes, there is violence in Israel right now but there are also people swimming, laughing and playing. There are bad people in the world but most people are kind and caring.
•Reassure that adults will protect them. This is key in many areas of our children’s lives. Adults are doing everything in their power to keep them safe.
•Keep living. Bad things happen but life goes on. Fear will not stop us from living.
•Provide historical perspective. The Jewish people and Israel have had many tough times but we have prevailed.
•Pray. Build Jewish pride. Communicate strength. Give children the knowledge that they are strong!
•A final idea is to look for ways to do something — send cards, raise money, talk to others. Do not hide from the news but be there to talk and explain. Let your children talk and question.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.
By Laura Seymour