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Cultivating Resilience: A Journey Through Tragedy and Triumph

In February, I embarked on a mental health mission to Israel, a journey of healing and discovery hosted by MASK, Nefesh and The United Task Force.
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April 10, 2024
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October 7 etched a dark stain on the hearts of Jewish Americans, reigniting our sense of identity. As a community leader, that day tested me like never before. My husband is the rabbi of a vibrant Los Angeles congregation that is home to over 600 young souls on the cusp of life’s journey. On Simchat Torah morning, I stepped into the synagogue, burdened by the unfolding tragedy in southern Israel. Most congregants were oblivious to the horror. Amidst the joy of a couple’s upcoming wedding, my tears tainted the celebration, starkly contrasting the love and marriage we were meant to honor. Instead, we plunged into mourning, singing the mournful tune of Yizkor, our hearts heavy with grief. In a synagogue where the median age barely reaches 20something, the loss of parents hits especially hard. Yet, on that day, our sorrow extended beyond parental loss; it encompassed the potential loss of friends serving in the IDF and those absent from the Nova festival. Together, we swayed a tapestry of silk and sandpaper.

As a somatic healer, I’m attuned to how trauma infiltrates not just our minds but our very beings. The question loomed significant that day: Could we dance with our sacred Torah as tradition dictates? Should we?

In February, I embarked on a mental health mission to Israel, a journey of healing and discovery hosted by MASK, Nefesh and The United Task Force. Alongside two dozen fellow healers, I sought to offer solace and document the resilience of the Israeli people.

Our first stop set the tone. Anemones dotted the landscape at the Nova Festival memorial, red poppies mirroring the blood spilled. The echoes of war reverberated as Israeli rockets shook the earth, vibrating through our bodies like electric currents. A local farmer turned hero, Rami Davidian, recounted his harrowing tale of saving 750 lives that fateful day. His daily pilgrimage to the memorial site speaks volumes, each step a reminder of the burning flesh he once inhaled. In our collective helplessness, we held space, offering solace in our shared tears. Our journey toward healing had begun.

In Tel Aviv, I met Arel Reuvanie, a 10-year-old refugee whose innocence belied the horrors he’d witnessed. Explosions outside his window, uncles lost in the chaos—he bore it all with a resilience beyond his years. Meanwhile, Arye Dobuler comforted displaced children with teddy bears and dolls, a tender gesture amidst the turmoil.

In Beit Shemesh, we witnessed the power of community in action. Psychotherapist Hindie M. Klein donated ice cream and art projects to an after-school program: a lifeline for children with fathers on the front lines. Amidst balloons and Hebrew tunes, their smiles were a beacon of hope in a sea of uncertainty.

Sam Kramer, a mother in Beit Shemesh launched a WhatsApp group called “Israel Good News,” a platform with over 12,000 followers worldwide offering a ray of light amidst the darkness, showcasing stories of unity and resilience, like Basma Hino’s first ever kosher Druze restaurant feeding Israeli soldiers on the front lines.

“We are a small country, nobody is killed that nobody knows,” commented Sharon Katz, a grandmother whose son was injured on the front lines. Her way of coping is through dance.  Her theater company helps women whose husbands are at the front survive their interminable wait.

Donny, a young soldier haunted by his experiences in Gaza, found solace in sound baths and healing sessions. His genuine smile, a rarity since the war, spoke volumes of his newfound resilience.

One of the main goals of Hamas on that dark day was to disrupt the food supply by attacking Thai workers on the farms in the South. According to NPR, more than seven thousand Thai workers left Israel after Oct. 7. Yoel Zilberman, co-founder of Hashomer Hachadash, has coordinated 2,000-5,000 volunteers daily arriving from around the world to cultivate the fields. A beacon of hope amidst despair. For him, survival was not enough; Israel must thrive, a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

In Jerusalem, Levi Saada’s “Hineni” organization brought healing through communal song circles. Their collective spirit, a balm for wounded souls, epitomized the power of unity in adversity.

On Oct. 7, amidst the darkness, my husband boldly decided that we would dance with the Torah. It was not a celebration but a declaration — a testament to our unyielding spirit and refusal to succumb to despair. 

On Oct. 7, amidst the darkness, my husband boldly decided that we would dance with the Torah. It was not a celebration but a declaration — a testament to our unyielding spirit and refusal to succumb to despair. Our dance became a battle cry, a reaffirmation of our values and our resilience in the face of evil.

So, what defines the resilient spirit of the Israeli people? It is a story of courage, compassion and community. It is a testament to the human capacity for healing and hope, even in the darkest times. Post-Oct. 7, Israel is not merely surviving; she is thriving — a beacon of resilience in a world of turmoil.

“If you came here to survive, you’re in the wrong place. We’re not surviving, we’re cultivating.”

A seed destroys itself to emerge as a tree. As Yoel Zilberman once said, “If you came here to survive, you’re in the wrong place. We’re not surviving, we’re cultivating.” In adversity, Israelis choose growth over stagnation and resilience over resignation. From the depths of tragedy, they emerge more muscular, more determined than ever to cultivate a brighter future.


Chava Floryn is a somatic healer and author of “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay,” and is dedicated to nurturing resilience in adversity. Her upcoming documentary, “Resilient,” offers a firsthand glimpse into the healing journey of the Israeli people in the aftermath of Oct. 7th. Join her in this transformative journey at https://chavafloryn.com/resilientdocumentary/.

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