It has been six months. Six months of waking up, knowing that the hostages are living in the horrors of captivity. Six months of families not knowing if their loved ones were alive or dead. Six months of Acheinu, the prayer for freeing the captives. 

Our family, the whole house of Israel, who are in distress, or in captivity — who stand either in the sea or on dry land — may the Omnipresent have mercy on them and take them out from narrowness to expanse, and from darkness to light, and from oppression to redemption, now, swiftly, and soon!

Sometimes, I wonder how these six months have changed us. How are we each different from the moment when we woke up on October 7th, before we opened our phones … before we read the stories as the horror unfolded?

For these six months, I have grown silent, burying each emotion deep inside. The anger, the sadness, the fear, the grief. Unconsciously, it was as if I feared that if I let one emotion out, an unstoppable geyser would emerge. If I let out one word, a vomitous stream of every raw thought would reveal the anger that I have tried so hard to quash inside. 

For six months, I have become less forgiving. As I scrolled social media and saw the memes, I wanted to take my proverbial red pen and write corrections everywhere. You said Palestinians when you meant Hamas. You said the West Bank when you meant Gaza. You said Zionists when you clearly meant Jews. You said settler-colonialism when you do not know what that term means. I wanted facts and nuance and truth. What I got instead was grief — at seeing the pictures of dead Israelis and dead Palestinians — I had been striving so hard to suppress. 

For six months, I have retreated because I do not know how to live in October 8th. I do not know how to say kaddish for all the dead. I do not understand the path to peace from this moment. My Zionism as it existed when I opened my eyes the morning of October 7th was inextricably intertwined with the concept that we are b’tselem elohim — we are all made in the divine image — and that each of us is responsible for healing this broken world. On October 8, it is hard to feel divinity. What remains is only brokenness.

I have many pieces of Torah that I lean on during troubled moments. One is words from Pirkei Avot — “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” On October 6, I understood my task. On this perpetual October 8, I have lost my way.

It has been six months. We cannot live in October 8th forever. I cannot live in October 8th forever. But we cannot go back. We cannot resurrect the dead, and we cannot erase the scars. The person I was on October 6 — she could have found some optimistic path, some axiom about being on one foot, putting one foot in front of the other, walking in others’ shoes. For the me that exists on October 8th, hope rings hollow and I cannot find my way back.

It seems that on October 8th, I need to find new Torah to move forward. In my search, I am reminded of a song that we used to sing at camp. 

Kol ha'olam kulo gesher tzar me'od, veha'ikar lo le'fached klal.

As a child, I remember this being translated as “All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to fear.” But as an adult, I have heard the end translated differently:

“...the most important thing is not to be overwhelmed by fear.” 

Perhaps this is the lesson that I need in this perpetual October 8th. All of the emotions exist — the anger, the sadness, the fear, the grief. But to move past October 8th, we need to acknowledge these emotions, as our only chance to not be overwhelmed by them. 

Knowing what we know and feeling what we have felt, we must begin to take steps on this narrow bridge.