How do I talk to my kids about the current situation in Israel?

Answered by
Rabbi Victor S. Appell

A few days ago, an Israeli rabbinic student, Alona Nir, was visiting Kutz Camp, a camp for Reform Jewish teen leaders, located outside of New York City. Alona showed the teens a short video of Israeli school children participating in an air raid drill. The lyrics were written by a social worker and the song is taught to young children in elementary schools near the Israeli border with Gaza. It is used as a tool to help the children deal with the fear and anxiety brought on by the constant threat of missile attacks.

The teens at the camp were surprised. They had not considered the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on children, especially Israeli children. How do we talk to our own children about the conflict and rising hostilities? Should we even talk to our children about this? If we are watching the news, or reading a newspaper, chances are our children will hear or read something about the conflict. We may have family in Israel or Israeli neighbors. If our children attend a Jewish camp, they may have an Israeli counselor.

Our children may be concerned about people they know who live in Israel or who are from Israel and have family there. We can help them by listening to their fears and concerns. We can reassure them that those in Israel are doing everything they can to keep safe. Our children will also want to know that they are safe here and that we want to create a better world in which all children are safe. Here are more resources for talking with children about the current situation in Israel.