Overcoming Wartime trauma, one step at a time

The day the Israeli war broke out, Eitan, a Boys Town Jerusalem seventh grader, experienced the tragedy and horror of his beloved uncle’s death in combat. Many of Eitan’s classmates with brothers now fighting in Gaza are experiencing tremendous anxiety. None of these boys can concentrate in class.

The war has been affecting the boys in many ways

David, an eighth grader, has no close family members in combat. Yet as the war intensified, the boy burst into uncontrollable, hysterical crying in class. As the school’s veteran social worker Ronit Asbag strove to comfort him, David finally admitted that the war’s trauma triggered memories of his parents’ bitter divorce.

Ronit encouraged students to talk about the wartime trauma

Fear and tension have acute effects on children, leaving them vulnerable to long-buried emotional stress.” Once Boys Town Jerusalem resumed classes two weeks into the war, Ronit spurred students to share their experiences and their feelings. “Either in small groups or individually, the boys were grateful to talk,” she notes. “I’m now working hard to give them the tools to cope and gain strength.”

A major source of empowerment in turbulent times is our boys’ ability to give to others,
Ronit stresses. “As they increase their volunteering efforts, students reap stamina and peace
of mind

Ronit has been using different therapy tools to help them cope

To ease students’ growing fears, Ronit provides both group and individual therapy, from
guided imagery
(“in stressful days, I help them concentrate on good times they’ve had”) to expressing their emotions in writing, and listening to music and lyrics that speak of pain, hope, and fear, and more. The Psalms are also a powerful source of courage for boys facing today’s fearful realities.

Even Ronit is dealing with her own wartime trauma

As Ronit Asbag struggles to give Boys Town Jerusalem students the emotional force to confront harrowing wartime dangers, she faces her own immense concern for her soldier son battling terrorists in Gaza. “I don’t sleep at night,” she admits, “but easing the fear and distress of our students gives me enormous strength.”