Thoughts and words

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

Finding words and sharing thoughts is always a challenging goal. What can I say about what is happening in our world today to give comfort or understanding? Who am I to try? Yet we must all struggle with the challenge and reach out to others. I looked back at thoughts I was writing for October and the thoughts still resonate, so I will reshare with a new “plan.” The plan is that we will be celebrating Israel Independence Day; there are many different programs in the city. I invite you especially to the J on Tuesday, May 14, for our Israel Independence Day Pool Party — celebrate with family, fun and community. Check the J website.

And here are my words from October which still resonate. 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 in to 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? I suggest we also add such words as resilient, connected, proud — and many more!

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

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