On Being There

By Jamie Bornstein

Yesterday my community of Sharon, Massachusetts lost 18 year old Ezra Schwartz z”l to Palestinian terrorism. I am only tangentially connected to the family, but in such a small town and synagogue community the loss reverberates deeply. We are in a state of shock. We are at a standstill. The grief is very deep.

While Facebook has been awash with posts about this tragedy, some simply sharing it as a news item and others sharing their words of sorrow, pain and consolation, it’s striking to me that very few people I know have said anything to me directly. Let me be clear, this tragedy is not about me. I understand this. Yet there is something odd about the silence from those whose only real connection to this community is through me. I wonder if those who are much closer to this loss are hearing from the outside.

It’s made me reflect on the importance of being there; the importance of reaching out to people directly – personally. Facebook is a remarkable medium, but it is not a replacement for direct human-to-human interactions. Whether it is at a time of unexpected and shocking loss, or a time of ongoing struggle and pain – the pain that this blog is primarily dedicated to addressing – we should never underestimate the power of reaching out to someone to remind them that we are there.

They might not even know they need you, but they’ll understand how much they do when you make yourself available and known.

Please consider who you might know in this community and let them know you are there. And let us all keep this in mind for the future. The world is an increasingly scary place and the greatest consolation we can find will be in each other.

May the Schwartz family and all those who know them and have been touched by this awful tragedy be comforted in the difficult days and weeks ahead.

Jamie Bornstein is the founder of Mental Health Safe Space. He lives in Sharon, MA with his wife and three children. He is the assistant director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, North America. He can be reached at mhsafespace@gmail.com.

Interested in submitting your story? To contact the Mental Health Safe Space blog, email mhsafespace@gmail.com. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mhsafespace.

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