It’s not my first time living in Boston for a year.
It’s not my first time experiencing war in Israel.
But it is the first time I’ve undergone both simultaneously.
Waking up in Boston since Oct. 7 means welcoming the beautiful sun streaming in through the window while absorbing updates on the war from my cellphone screen. Striking a balance between these two worlds has become a daily struggle. In this turbulent time, stability feels like a distant memory, and uncertainty looms from dawn till dusk.
The option to distance myself from the current turmoil in Israel can seem like a blessing. But with that power of escapism comes a responsibility to remain engaged. From a distance, I grapple with survivor guilt more intensely than ever. Since Oct. 7, I’ve needed to focus on myself to find moments of happiness, to smile and, occasionally, to momentarily drift away from the weight of it all.
In Israel people find comfort in taking action. If one isn’t in the army, they volunteer; if not that, they offer emotional support or donate resources. My family epitomizes this ethos: My parents volunteer in the southern tomato fields, my sister hosts Shabbat dinners for Israeli refugees, her husband documents survivors’ stories, and my brother and his wife serve in the reserves. And this is just within my immediate family.
As part of my family and community I strive to discover meaningful ways to contribute to and support Israel. Even though one big ocean separates me and you from Israel, we possess influence and the means to support the people of Israel and the global Jewish community.
Let’s amplify our voices. Social media platforms create echo chambers that reinforce our existing beliefs. In an era where algorithms curate content aligned with our biases, it’s crucial to break out of this cycle. Each of us can contribute to advocacy on different platforms without necessarily generating content.
Here’s a tip: Save and watch entire videos on Instagram, retweet on Twitter and engage by commenting and watching full videos on Facebook. This user behavior can impact how the platform will prioritize the content.
Moreover, U.S. citizens have the capacity to contact our representatives or write to the White House administration, informing them of the support for Israel among constituents.
Take action. Numerous initiatives, from displaying a blue ribbon on your front porch to volunteering in Israel, are making a difference. Stay informed about new opportunities that align with your schedule and skills.
Participate. Attending organized events to support Israel fosters a sense of solidarity and community, as well as spreading the news that we are a big community part of the Boston population.
You can discover a list of initiatives on the website How to Help Israel, which I’ve created and will regularly update as needed.
In times of struggle and distance, our capacity to make a difference knows no bounds. From across oceans, our voices can reverberate, our actions can echo hope and our solidarity can bridge any gap. Even as we navigate our own challenges, we hold the power to uplift, support and stand by those in need. Let’s continue to contribute in every way we can, knowing that every effort, no matter how small, creates ripples of positive change. Thank you. Thank you for your ideas, time and expertise. Thank you for fighting as I am for a better future.
Yael Mark is a former 2015 “Shinshinit” (young emissary) in the Greater Boston area and served in the IDF 8200 Intelligence Unit for four years. Recently relocated to Boston, she is a product manager and has a bachelor of arts in psychology and economics.