Dear Mom,

I’m sure what you are experiencing on the news must be very scary for you. My advice is to stop watching it. Yes, this situation here is very tense, but throughout stress, violence and mayhem, we chop vegetables. We get on buses. We pretend we’re taking notes in class when we’re chatting with friends online. We finish homework on time for class (ha). Tragedy and fear persist, but so does life.

Many people from home have been asking how I’m handling it all. People ask about what it’s like when sirens go off indicating that rockets from Gaza are on the way. They ask for my thoughts on “the conflict.” I’m unable to vocalize anything. My anger, sadness and sensitivity surprise me each time I engage with someone about life here. The whole situation has affected me tremendously.

During times like this, I turn inward. I ask myself what I can do to ease the chaos around me. Living in Jerusalem feels like living in a pressure cooker, and from what I see, the heat is not fueled by extremists or political leaders. It is fueled by people like me—laypeople who decry personal responsibility by not building unity into their agenda of everyday tasks. It is fueled by people who are set on defining and defending rights and wrongs.

As a Jew living in Israel, I do not take my responsibility lightly. I have chosen to focus my time and energy on efforts that are productive. I listen, acknowledge the suffering and pain of others, engage in dialogue, take personal responsibility, tell stories, smile and humanize. (You can read some of my reflections here.) It is the least and the most that I can do.

In the meantime, with life a little stressful lately, my desire for comfort food has kicked in—eggs and cheese and carbs. Several Shabbats ago, I was with family, and Nurit made an amazing goat cheese tart. I re-made it with rye flour for a Shabbat dinner that I hosted recently. It was a much-needed indulgence.