I used to be scared of spiders. Every time I spotted a little (or big) black dot on the wall or floor and confirmed it was a multi–legged critter, I would scream. My husband needed to be the one to come up if he was home and remove that tiny sucker at once. My sister calls it my “bug scream.” She can always tell if I walk in and see an insect that should be making its home outside instead.
I used to be scared of horror films. I think I’ve seen approximately one full movie in my life. I can tell you when and where it was and describe the images that are still in my brain to this day.
I used to be scared of the small things — miniscule creatures so tiny you can squash them with your bare hands, images on screen that were made with prosthetics.
This time of year, those images are all around. Driving around my suburban American town, I see people celebrating all the traditional things that spook — there are ghosts on front lawns, pumpkins with teeth parading down walkways and fake blood-soaked cloths draping over railings in front of people’s homes.
The thing is, they’re not so scary to me anymore. The scary part is that all of the giant spiders, zombies and skeletons spooking people in the street don’t give me the chills like they used to. The harrowing part is seeing how much I’ve changed internally in such a short amount of time.
Since October 7th, when my brothers and sisters were massacred in Israel, everything has changed. While the day-to-day routine of my life looks quite similar, the narrative running beneath the surface couldn’t be more different.
When life becomes scarier than any horror film ever could muster to create, you stop being afraid of the little things.
When babies and kids are pulled out of their warm beds on a Saturday morning and murdered and kidnapped, those are the true horrors.
When newspapers believe terrorist organizations over a country that places human life higher than any other army in the world, that really makes you shake.
When people are beaten in the street at Pro-Palestinian rallies, aka Antisemitic parades, you wonder how many people you know are hiding their true feelings about Jews.
Those are the scary things. And you know what? As truly terrifying as the state of the world is right now, I refuse to be scared anymore.
If this time period we’re in right now has taught me anything, it’s that the only things I know for sure are:
No one could have predicted what went on the morning of October 7th. No one in their wildest dreams could have thought up massacre in which terrorists did things to humans that even the Nazis couldn’t dream up.
No one knew. No one knows what’s going to happen next either. The unknown is scary but you can choose to live in the fear or work on the only things you can control. Your mindset and your life.
During the Holocaust, Jews weren’t able to stand up for themselves. They didn’t have a voice. Now, through blogs, social media and our communities, we have a voice. We can stand strong. We don’t know what will come, but we can do our best to show up and fight it.
I’ve been trying to stand in so many ways. I stand in the front of my workout class in my fully tzniut (modest) outfit to show the world how strong this Jewish woman is.
I stand in prayer, and daven my heart out to Hashem because I know He is the only one that will get us out of this safely.
I stand with the fellow women in my community, making challah and saying Tehillim because we get encouragement from each other and are more powerful together.
I stand with my wallet — giving tzedaka to as many causes as I can because if we’re not fighting in the IDF right now we need to support from afar.
I stand on social media, posting the truth about what’s going on and highlighting the horrors around us so people who don’t fully understand maybe will take a second and think differently.
I stand proudly as a Jew, continuing to learn Torah as much as I can, trying to strengthen myself in mind, body and spirit so I can go on fighting.
This horrific event changed us as a people. We have never been more united and more connected to one another as Jews. I have never felt prouder to be on the side of a fight that has real, honest values that focus on kindness, giving to one another and faith.
So, I used to be scared of spiders. Now, amidst the greatest challenge I’ve ever felt in my life as a Jew, I’ve never been more empowered in my fears. I’ve never felt more confident that we will get through this as a Jewish people stronger, braver and better than before.