Motherly Collective

Like many parents, the horrific events of Oct. 7 that took place in Israel, as well as the aftermath in Gaza and around the world, has left me absolutely gutted. For my family, especially with a 3-year-old and an 11-month-old, these events have hit close to home, and the world has felt like a less safe place. My husband and I still find ourselves glued to the news and social media, and not a night goes by that I haven’t prayed for every victim on all sides. Every evening, I thank my lucky stars that my own children are alive and—so far—unaffected. 

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried that one day in the not-so-distant future, that could change.

As a Jew, it’s been terrifying to watch history repeat itself with attacks on innocent Jewish people and outrage when Israel defends itself. And on top of it all, it’s felt incredibly isolating to know just how small the Jewish population really is in this world. I won’t summarize the complex history between Israel and its neighbors, but I encourage everyone to truly educate themselves when it comes to changes in land ownership, Hamas’ leadership in Gaza, and the group’s public charter that calls for the global annihilation of the Jewish people. 

At the heart of this current Israel-Hamas conflict are the children. The Israeli children who were brutally murdered in their cribs or taken hostage by Hamas. The NICU babies in Palestinian hospitals facing grim fates as Israel targets Hamas headquarters. My heart breaks into a million pieces for all of the children and parents touched by this terrible situation. 

Needless to say, I’ve been feeling… less than optimistic. And, undoubtedly, this energy is palpable. As parents, I like to think our children are smarter and more observant than we give them credit for. They know more than we think they do. And while it’s important to prepare our children for our world, which isn’t always full of rainbows and butterflies, one of the best qualities about children—and, frankly, one that we as adults can really learn from—is their innocent hope

Looking for the helpers

Recent violence in the Middle East has certainly ignited fears and anxieties within parents everywhere. But sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve experienced scary situations from which we aim to shield our kids. 

When these situations arise, I always find myself going back to the best way I know how to find solace: by looking for the helpers. 

Looking for the helpers” is a concept that was first introduced by Fred Rogers, the beloved host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The show was chock full of lessons for young children about feelings and complex issues (if you haven’t yet shown your kids “Daniel Tiger”, the modern-day adaptation of “Mister Rogers”, check it out!). I’ve long admired Fred Rogers’ wisdom, but this advice in particular, intended to help children make sense of scary or confusing situations, hits home. 

For kids, seeing acts of kindness and heroism in times of trouble can be profoundly reassuring. Acknowledging helpers reminds our children that even when the world seems unpredictable, there are people who care, who are willing to protect and help. This concept resonates universally, providing hope irrespective of age or cultural background.

The power of “helpers”

In the context of the Israeli-Hamas conflict in particular, “helpers” come in many forms. They are the first responders rushing to provide medical aid, volunteers offering shelter to those in need, and political figures dedicating their lives to missions of peace-building and dialogue. 

For older children who may be more exposed to today’s conflict, it’s crucial to shed light on these heroes, their compassion and their unwavering commitment to making the world a better place. 

For instance, organizations like Doctors Without Borders send medical teams to conflict zones to provide life-saving care to those in need. We can tell our children about these brave doctors and nurses who help people hurt in the conflict. These medical teams are like superheroes who heal others. Other groups, like Save the Children, focus on helping children affected by conflict. They provide shelter, education and support to kids who have experienced trauma. We can show our children how these organizations make a real difference in the lives of children just like them.

Depending on where you live, there may even be individuals helping provide aid to contacts in Israel and Gaza directly (outside of an organization), demonstrating that we don’t need to be in a war zone to feel empathy and help those affected. 

For all children, though, it’s important to remember that the acts of kindness we discuss don’t even have to relate to the conflict at hand at all. Especially for our littles, spending some extra time to highlight random acts of kindness in your own community can go such a long way as a positive distraction from any anxiety they might feel. 

Tikkun Olam: Being a helper

Perhaps the concept of helping resonates so strongly with me because it’s literally a Jewish commandment. Instilled at the earliest age, the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam means “repairing the world.” As a core principle in Judaism, it emphasizes the responsibility of individuals to actively work towards making the world a more just, compassionate and peaceful place. It’s a call to action to not only offer help to those in need but to engage in the ongoing process of healing and repairing the world, just as the helpers do in times of crisis. 

While we talk to our children about looking to the helpers, take it one step further and help encourage them to be helpers. 

I’m grateful to my parents and my Jewish community for always encouraging Tikkun Olam and integrating opportunities for kindness into my everyday life. Whether it was playing basketball with kids at a family friend’s school for those with special needs, or delivering meals to low-income elderly people over the holidays, being a good helper has always been a value I’ve aimed to embody. I hope to pass these values on to my children so they know the importance of helping, too. 

Learning from the helpers

When we discuss the importance of helping with our children, there are a few specific values that will likely come through in varying degrees. For young children, this is actually a great way to make abstract concepts feel more tangible.


True helpers show immense compassion. They treat all human lives as equally valuable, transcending boundaries of race, religion and nationality. By adopting this mindset, we can promote empathy and understanding in our own lives, bridging gaps and fostering peace.

What you can tell your kids

Compassion means caring very much about other people, no matter where they come from or what they believe. It’s like having a big heart that wants to help and make everyone feel better.


Those who dedicate their lives to helping demonstrate immense resilience. They carry on in the face of danger, trauma and adversity, and do the right thing even when it’s not the “cool” thing to do. Their resilience reminds us that even in the darkest of times, there is a path forward, and by persisting, we can make a difference.

What you can tell your kids

Resilience is when you don’t give up, even when things are hard or scary. It’s like being a superhero who keeps going to make things better, no matter what.


Helpers often come from diverse backgrounds, working together to provide aid and comfort. We can learn from their unity, understanding that cooperation and collective effort are essential in resolving conflicts.

What you can tell your kids

Unity is when people who may be different from each other come together, like different colors coming together to make a beautiful picture. It’s important because when we work together, we can solve big problems and help others.


Helpers embody hope when it seems in short supply. By focusing on their actions, we can remind ourselves that change is possible and peace is achievable. We can instill this hope in the hearts of our children, teaching them that even in the face of adversity, there are individuals working to make the world a better place.

What you can tell your kids

Hope is like a shining light in the dark. It’s when you believe that even when things are tough, there are good people trying to make the world a happier and safer place. It’s like knowing that things will get better, and we can help make that happen too.

Promoting empathy and peace

As we discuss the Israeli-Hamas conflict with young children, it is essential to navigate the conversation with empathy, understanding and a focus on the helpers. By sharing stories of heroes who emerge in times of crisis—or even those helping within our own communities—we can help children see the world as a place filled with both challenges and opportunities for positive change. 

We can teach them that while conflict and suffering exist, so too does the capacity for compassion, healing and peace. To me, there’s no better way to honor the victims of these tragic events and work towards a better world for future generations.

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