Facing Trauma and Fear with Strength

In today’s war-struck Israel, over 40% of Boys Town Jerusalem students now have a father or brother (or both) serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Further, many students themselves suffer paralyzing fear and emotional distress fed by social media clips of Hamas atrocities against Israeli civilians.

Despite a return to “normalcy” boys continue to be distressed

“While classes and after-school activities have completely resumed, a number of students remain deep in the throes of trauma,” shares BTJ Junior High School Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz. “On all levels, our social workers and teachers are working to ease their pain.” Thanks to generous donors worldwide, two classes of 8th and 9th graders in the most acute need of support are the first to attend a series of professional sessions aiding them to confront crisis situations, gain confidence, sharpen their memory skills, and much more.

Every activity brings its own challenges

Complexities abound on the administrative level as well, the principal notes. “Many BTJ teachers were called up to their IDF Reserves units at the war’s outbreak, and substitutes are scarce nationwide. Class trips pose dilemmas of their own: With Israel’s north and south under rocket attacks, activities are confined to a small central range—or remaining on campus. We are constantly creating new solutions to give our boys great experiences and the resources to confront today’s tough challenges.”

The war does not help with family financial woes

For students from families in crisis, the war trauma is even more acute. “Beyond mounting financial woes, even the effort to make a son’s Bar Mitzvah is now too overwhelming for divided or poverty-stricken families,” Rabbi Rosencrantz reports. “Thanks to our donors, BTJ can offer students in need a wonderful Bar Mitzvah on campus, complete with a festive breakfast and bowling party for the class. This week we delighted a boy by celebrating his Bar Mitzvah here, with others scheduled soon.

“In these dark, challenging times, we’re grateful to be a source of security, encouragement and hope for our boys and their families.”

*photo for illustrative purposes only