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The Impact of Antisemitism on Mental Health

I’ve been very open about my own mental health on this blog and in general when I find it appropriate to discuss my experience.

I live with depression, anxiety, and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

They’re no picnic.

Depression is a blunt force of sadness and despair that makes me consider tragic scenarios and outcomes.

Anxiety barrages my brain with catastrophic thoughts that I know aren’t actual facts, but nonetheless shape perceptions that are my realities that physically scorch my stomach and cause panic attacks. It's always worse at night, and sleep can be fitful or not come at all.

PTSD levies a constant loop of “What’s past is prologue,” transporting me to ages 26, 21, 15, 14, and 10 so that I can re-experience the awful moments of those times.

Is it a badge of honor that I work through all of it to create a better quality of life? Yes. Would I turn in that badge to cleanse myself of these mental illnesses? In an instant.

Everyday I have to contend with these challenges which are heavily influenced by current situational circumstances, like the stresses of parenting, work, aging, and so on.

One that I never imagined that would emerge is the onslaught of antisemitism and Jewish hatred. May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and I am heartened by how far we’ve come: the conversation is as sophisticated as ever; people are coming out of the shadows; inclusion is the norm; and shame is being put to rest.

But the world has turned the clock back, way back, regarding the treatment of Jews to the point where members of The Greatest Generation and Holocaust survivors say that 2024 feels like 1934 and 1944. All at once, we’re seeing the progression of mental health awareness and advocacy and the regression of the value placed on Jews.

This has been devastating for my mental health and the collective mental health of Jews. Society is rallying to provide mental healthcare access to underserved communities, shining lights on the most marginalized populations, like those who identify as any subset of LGBTIQA+, and it's about damn time.

But not only have we been left out of the conversation, especially since October 7, we've been targeted, dehumanized, devalued, demonized, delegitimized, and disincluded.

We are not okay, and the world needs to know that our mental health matters, too.

I Can't Just Go About My Day

Frustration is an emotion whose whole feels much greater than the sum of its parts: helplessness; rage; and injustice.

As uncomfortable as frustration is, I’ve learned to sit with it more, knowing that it will pass—the injustice element particularly, because I know that others who are like-minded share in it.

The second half of 2020 and the start of 2021 produced one injustice after another: the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd; the shooting of Jacob Blake; and the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol—all occurring at the same time of covid.  

I would sit at my desk feeling so Goddamn angry, but I was able to compartmentalize knowing that fellow social justice champions were in it, too, taking action when I couldn’t.

My frustration has risen to new heights over the last seven months, and at times it’s been impossible to just go about my day as much of the world doubles, quadruples, and octuples down on its hatred toward Jews during each phase of the October 7 aftermath:.

  • The Harvard University letter from 34 student organizations blaming Israel
  • The first wave of college campus protests
  • Progressive politicians saying this was Israel’s comeuppance
  • The UN Secretary General saying this was Israel’s comeuppance
  • A plane landing in Russia from Tel Aviv bum rushed by a mob of antisemites
  • Tunisia setting synagogues on fire
  • South Africa charging Israel with genocide before the International Court of Justice
  • Israel Defense Forces (IDF) uncovering that UN employees participated in October 7
  • The second wave of college campus protests erupting, this time with violent encampments

And where have my fellow social justice champions been? Not with me but against me.

The Double Standard Is Crushing

There are too many examples of double standards to keep track of, but here are the most glaring:

Some of the same people who fought for the MeToo movement and posted #BringBackOurGirls when Boko Haram kidnapped female students in Nigeria question whether the rape and genital mutilation of Israeli girls happened, though Hamas bragged about it.

Many who are so grotesquely and falsely accusing Israel of genocide are nowhere to be heard from while at this very moment the Uyghur Muslims of China are being forced into concentration camps.

Those who raged over migrant children being placed into cages at border detention centers don’t care about Israeli, American, Muslim, Druze, and Bedouin youth being brutalized in the subterranean hell of Hamas tunnels in Gaza.

Those who identify as liberals correctly labeled the January 6 participants as insurrectionists, yet deify the Hamas-supporting Columbia University students, professors, and outside agitators who seized Hamilton Hall as freedom fighters.

Mental health advocates lost in a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance can’t say we need to “Erase the stigma” of mental illness while their behavior is making Jews more depressed, more anxious, more panicked, and more traumatized.

The Silence Is Deafening

Key to positive mental health is a support system, yet we’re not hearing from enough Jews who have power and influence and whose voices could help correct the damaging narrative.

Where are you CEOs, social media and AI billionaires, team owners not named Bob Kraft, entertainers not named Debra Messing, Julianna Margulies, Gal Gadot, Noa Tishby, and Bill Maher (he’s half-Jewish), and members of congress not named Jon Fetterman?

I’d hoped that Steven Spielberg, who made the quintessential Holocaust film and created the Shoah Foundation, would have spoken out on October 8 and become a leading voice of support. But he waited until March, five months after the massacre, to deliver a powerful albeit late speech addressing antisemitism, then disappeared.

Thank you…kind of.

Excruciating as all of this is, I have a lot of hope. When I was in Israel last month, I was struck by how Israelis are able to process the trauma of October 7 while living their lives in order to preserve the free society they’ve built. IDF soldiers—war-weary from lack of sleep, separation from their families, risking their lives in Gaza, and grieving those lost on October 7—asked me how I was holding up in the midst of this new era of antisemitism in America. I repeat, they asked me how I was doing.

I brought that home with me, this gesture of empathy and support. It’s a reminder of the resilience that’s baked into the DNA of every Jew, and that it’s our responsibility to access it.  

Resilience stands up to hate, violence, and abandonment, and it will keep our mental health intact.

About the Author, David Telisman

I am a Writer and Content Creator, and I work with businesses to inspire their customers to buy from them. I believe that my clients deserve to feel proud of how their content marketing looks and what it says, and I deliver by providing expert copywriting and marketing solutions.

Sharing my passion through words is my craft, and I could add value by helping you voice yours. Contact me here, at or 224-645-2748.

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