It’s been fifty-three days since October 7th.
Fifty-three days in which my reality, as well as the reality of my friends, family, colleagues, and pretty much everyone I care about, has fallen apart so many times it seems that the concept of “good” and “bad” is nothing but a blurry mush of definitions we thought we knew. We live in an upside-down world where most things have lost their meaning.
Fifty-three days in which I repeatedly say “terrible,” “horrific,” and “heartbreaking,” only to recall that these are just words, incapable of truly reflecting the pain that comes with what is happening in the chaotic place that is my beautiful, beloved homeland.
What words can do
These days, words never seem to be enough. They can’t bring the Israeli hostages back from Gaza, mend the thousands of broken families, or take us back to the time before the horrors of October 7th. Words just don’t have the superpower to heal the constant ache we’re all going through. Yet, they have some power to offer us tiny, meaningful moments of connection and comfort. And with everything going on, even the tiniest comfort feels huge.
Since the war started, friends from different corners of the world have reached out to me to check how I’m holding up. I could tell that many were hesitant and unsure about what to say, but I’m grateful they pushed past the awkwardness to check-in.
How to support your Israeli friend?
Getting messages from friends around the world, no matter their opinions on the situation or their political leanings, reminds me that underneath all the chaos, we’re still all people. It’s interesting to note that the question “What to say to Israeli friends right now?” is trending on Google. Since I’ve been getting that question a lot, I thought I’d shed some light on it and maybe make you feel a bit more at ease talking to your Israeli friends right now. The good news is – you don’t need to overthink it! Sometimes, stressing about saying the “perfect thing” just makes things awkward. Instead, I can assure you that the most important move right now is just to say something.
Even if you don’t know what to say, can’t find the words, or are unsure how to approach your friend when you can’t understand what they’re experiencing. It doesn’t matter which “side” you’re on. You don’t have to get into that. You don’t need to talk big. Friends remain friends, and your friend is navigating a tough moment that requires your support now. It’s as simple as that. Just ask how they’re doing. Send a heart, a hug, or a butterfly emoji. Say that you don’t know what to say but that you love them. Say whatever comes to mind, but say something. Silence hurts these days, and personally, not hearing from non-Israeli friends can leave me feeling adrift, as if the political storm carried them away and they’re upset with me for things I have no control over.
So, if you want to reach out to your Israeli friend right now but are unsure where to start, here are some ideas for simple messages that I’m sure will make their heart feel warm for a moment:
💬 “I’m thinking about you. I really hope your family is safe.”
💬 “Hey, how are you doing? What you’re going through seems so hard, I can’t even imagine.”
💬 “I honestly don’t know what to say, but I just wanted to send a hug and tell you that I love and miss you.”
ok, you got the spirit, right? You don’t need to say something clever or grand or express an opinion about anything. Just show up to remind them that you’re there. The most important thing is your intention כוונה (kah-vah-nah).
Show interest in learning
Another thing that is really touching for us Israelis is when someone truly wants to understand and learn more about what’s happening. Social media is a crappy place at the moment, and the amount of hate and fake news that is being spread is toxic. If you’re curious about the complexity of the Middle East and the conflict but don’t quite get it, your Israeli friend would likely be happy to talk and share what they know from living here. And if they’re not up for a chat, they might be glad to suggest some resources for you to explore and discuss.
At its core, your love, interest, and eagerness to reach out is the most meaningful thing. Simply be there as your friend tries to navigate these horrific times. Remind them that you’re there. Don’t let political differences cloud your perception of friends or friendships. Send them small reminders of the good times you had together. Looking back on the good times and picturing them coming back helps, even if just for a brief moment.