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“Conversations on Meaning”: Supporting survivors and family of victims of October 7th massacres and the war with Hamas

 

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.

To choose one's own way". 

 Viktor Frankl

 

Finding meaning is a cornerstone of developing resilience, hope and coping with life's traumas and crises. Dr. Viktor Frankl’s, "Man’s Search of Meaning", has been one of the most popular books in the world for more than fifty years. Viktor Frankl was an Austrian Jewish psychiatrist, neurologist and thinker who survived the Holocaust and developed the theory of "logotherapy" - an existential approach to life which is based on the innate drive of human beings to search and find meaning in life in any situation, crisis, trauma, loss and human difficulty.  In actuality, Logotherapy (“logos” means “meaning) is more of a way to look at one’s life, rather than what is considered actual “therapy”. It supports and empowers the individual to "choose life" in times of deep pain and uncertainty, to develop hope, growth, and the ability to cope "in spite of everything".



Following the October 7th massacres in southern Israel, I found myself climbing the walls in my Israeli home, demanding of myself: “Get out and Help. Find a way!” I am sure I speak for many like me whose lives were turned completely upside down within hours. It took me some time to find that way…My son was recruited as a reserve soldier on the northern border for two months. His fiancé, our daughter and others all received some kind of support from us. I also put together a 3.5 minute video clip with a wonderful video editor who volunteered her time, that I circulated widely, Carrying our Parents’ Legacy: Second-Generation Holocaust Survivors and the Hamas Massacres. It came right from the heart…but that was not enough for me, I needed to find something that would be directly helping support the victims, survivors and their families. After some time and much effort to find the avenue which best suited my “inner-stirring”, it dawned on me that what I was already doing was what I should keep doing. It was then that the volunteer project “Conversations on Meaning” was born.

 

The “Conversations on Meaning” project is a volunteer service serving those impacted by the tragic events of October 7th and the ensuing and ongoing war, at this time. It is not therapy, nor is it any kind of tangible assistance, all of which are very necessary for those with such needs. It is a safe space in which to explore, support and reflect on the powerful place unique meaning has for every single individual who is coping with the effects of trauma, adversity and the shaking of one’s deepest beliefs. It offers a way to look for the “light” even in the darkest times. Meaning is not from the “head” only, and not from the “heart” only, but from the “whole human being” seeking healing, resilience and growth even in the most difficult of times.

 

I should say that with every conversation I am privileged to engage in, I leave feeling moved and inspired. I find that being able to hold the candle to the search for meaning for a person who has- and in many cases continues- to suffer, wrestle and struggle with the deep sadness of grief and the pain of such terrible traumas- is a sacred and deeply human act. I invite the reader to this blog post to delve further into my reflections on this project. Thank-you.

 

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