Are religious students in Sderot more resilient than their secular counterp

As part of its ongoing efforts to boost awareness of the crisis facing the people of Sderot and other towns on the Gaza perimeter, UJC and its partners JAFI and JDC recently brought editors from American Jewish newspapers to the region, where the journalists stayed with local families, took shelter during kassam strikes, and examined the programs that funding from North American Jewry sustains.

We'll post links to the coverage here so you can see what perspectives these journalists brought home with them.

Today's serving is from Suzi Brozman of the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Compared to most of the writers and editors who went on this mission, Brozman  spent less time painting a general picture, and more time exploring the therapeutic options available to Sderot residents -- the 'stress sites' where people with anxiety but no physical injuries can go after an attack, the 'resilience centers' that train residents in how to prepare for attacks, and how to respond to them, and the

Sderot students. Credit: Jonathan Levine/UJC

'havens of calm', rooms that have been established in Sderot schools where children can feel safe and supported as they participate in group activities and individual therapies meant to mitigate the chronic depression that is an understandable symptom of being under frequent attack.

One interesting interview (in "The Rocket's Red Glare" article) is with Eli Edrich, the principal of a religious high school in Sderot, who says that the level of post-attack fear tends to be higher among girls than boys, and among secular students more than religious students. "One of the factors that helps their resilience, [Edrich] said, is belief. It is a very important difference between the secular and religious settlements. Everyone has a tehillim (psalm) book in their pocket. They take it out in the safe room, and it strengthens them. In addition, he sends a message whenever there's an attack, and students in Amit schools all over the world say tehillim for those in Sderot."

After-school progam in Sderot. Credit: Jonathan Levine/UJC

Would the leaders of secular schools in Sderot disagree with his contention? Perhaps, but it is an interesting point nonetheless.

To read more about the size of the student population of the Gaza perimeter, check out this recent posting on our blog, which has the best available data.

Brozman also wrote a column, "Hello to Israel," about her visit. This article gradually shifts from inane to impassioned; the latter is quite moving, as she conveys the transformative power of this, her first trip to the Jewish state.