In the Midst of Worldwide Jewish Tsuris (Troubles), This Jewish Grandmother Adheres to Extinguishing the Darkness By Focusing on Light and Moral Clarity

It is not without irony that 2024 has brought us Jews worldwide tsuris (the Yiddish word for troubles), and also upheaval for the rest of the world, that for Jews started with October 7, 2023.  I find myself repeating my mother’s words so often, as I stand as the matriarch of a Holocaust family.

My Mother, GG (Great Grandmother) Frieda always used to say that “everyone has something.”  She said we each have that something, tsuris, Yiddish for troubles or woes or aggravation.  You may think your troubles are the worst troubles anyone could have, but everyone thinks that, GG used to say.  She concluded that it was better to keep your own tsuris, as you know them (always multiple troubles) and are used to dealing with them. 

We Jews are now suffering worldwide community tsuris.  We Jews are used to dealing with tsuris individually and as a collective Jewish community.

My parents’ “something,” their troubles, their worst tsuris, was the Holocaust.  I must admit that whenever my mother heard of another traumatic Holocaust story, she always said, “that is nothing.  What I experienced was the worst of the Holocaust.”  I have to totally agree with my mother after experiencing through her the horrors she experienced, which were part of the Nazi intentional plan of psychological destruction of even those who might survive the Holocaust. 

As a child of Holocaust survivors, I also totally agree with Eileen Lavine, the author of “Nobody Knows the Tsuris I’ve Seen…” that  [t]here might not be another word in any language that quite captures the meaning of tsuris.”  You have to read her article, to begin to understand the meaning of tsuris and how deep Jewish tsuris runs.

She ends with:

“Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz may assign far too much importance to tsuris in his book, ‘The Vanishing American Jew.’ In his “Tsuris Theory of Jewish Survival,” he posits that historically “Jews have retained their Jewish identity, at least in part, because of tsuris.” But as external threats diminish, Dershowitz contends that tsuris can no longer be relied on to maintain Jewish continuity. Who knew a tsuris-free world could be such a problem?”

Does Alan Dershowitz in the ending quote from the December 31, 2012 article inadvertently show us the purpose of the “external threat”  of October 7?

October 7 occurred by Hamas as a continuation of the Nazi playbook, in their intention to also attempt to annihilate the Jewish people.  See my mother’s Holocaust experience,

And my father’s Holocaust experience.

Sometimes, I wish the Holocaust, as evil and incomprehensible as it remains, were my only tsuris.  I have lived with the Holocaust as long as I can remember, and even before that for which I have memories, with those sensations and feelings that bring unwelcome nightmares and anxiety.  It is better for me to not remember, to push the Holocaust away. Now with October 7, I can no longer do so and realize that I should not.

As the oldest, I find myself now the matriarch of this multigenerational Holocaust survivor family.  How the Nazis would despise that term, “multigenerational Holocaust survivor family.” They did their best to wipe us from the world. What is frightening are the numbers of those living today who would also despise that term.  It is still beyond my comprehension that America and the world is not safe for Jews now, but I think as a Jew, even a child of Holocaust survivors, I had my head in the sand. 

Does Alan Dershowitz’s quote from the December 31, 2012 article show us that the external threat of October 7 and where is world is now is intended by God to awaken the Jewish community around the world and unite us again for Jewish continuity in the most recent darkest time in our Jewish history?

See, Hillel Fuld’s January 24, 2024 speech on the Friends of the Israeli Defense Force briefing to understand why looking what is happening in the world, and what happened October 7 may be viewed not from a human lens, but from God.  In his speech, Hillel Fuld woke me up when he said:

“Never Again referred to the concentration camps.  But not never again antisemitism.”

As external threats against the collective Jewish community escalate around the world after October 7, tsuris may be relied on to maintain Jewish continuity and wake us up to the antisemitism that is always present and must be countered. I agree with Alan Dershowitz’s “Tsuris Theory of Jewish Survival.”  I agree with Hillel Fuld’s speech.

The Nazis did not win.  Neither will Hamas and Jew haters around the world.

In the midst of worldwide Jewish tsuris (troubles), this Jewish grandmother adheres to extinguishing the darkness by focusing on light and moral clarity. We, the generations that follow the Holocaust and now faced October 7, must look to the light and must follow the light. Proudly the matriarch of this Holocaust survivor family, I think it is appropriate for our family to be led by an eternal optimist.

I agree that Jews everywhere of every age should awaken and understand our individual and collective obligation to maintain Jewish continuity and community, and because of October 7 and worldwide antisemitism, to do something and say something.  As Mr. Fuld concludes, speak up, show ourselves, do our part, make noise . . .rise to the occasion of this tsuris.

Despite all external efforts to extinguish the Jewish people, we have been here for 5784 years to continue to bring God’s light unto the world.

Hillel Fuld’s hopeful message to the Jews of the world:

 “We will Dance Again.” with



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