Belief helps Gaza border residents hang on during rocket attacks

Religion News Service | 11/19/2018 | Staff
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ASHKELON, Israel (RNS) — The moment Judy Spanglet heard the words “Color Red” come over Israel’s incoming-rocket alert system, she rushed into her apartment’s concrete-reinforced “safe room” and bolted the heavy door.

Moments later her building shuddered as a Grad rocket landed in a park across the street.

Rocket - Side - Spanglet - Building - Injuries

The rocket damaged the other side of Spanglet’s building but caused no injuries.

“I thanked God that we weren’t hit and, later, that no one was hurt,” said Spanglet, a resident of this seaside city eight miles from the Gaza border.

Week - Spanglet - Others - Sides - Gaza-Israel

Last week, Spanglet and many others on both sides of the Gaza-Israel border relied heavily on their faith to cope with the most recent violent escalation.

On Nov. 11, a clash between an undercover Israel Defense Forces unit and Hamas fighters in Gaza left seven Palestinian fighters and one IDF officer dead. Palestinian militant groups retaliated, launching 450 mortars and rockets at Israeli border communities.

Attacks - Man - Living - Israel - Israelis

The attacks killed a Palestinian man living in Israel and sent more than 100 Israelis to area hospitals. Then Israel bombed targets in Gaza before both sides agreed to a tentative cease-fire.

Spanglet, an Orthodox psychotrauma therapist who has researched the role that faith and spirituality can play in treating traumatized patients, said having a belief — in whatever form — helps people deal with overwhelming events and reduce feelings of helplessness.

Studies - Faith - Resource - Trauma - Israel

“Studies have shown that faith is an important resource when dealing with trauma. I’ve found this in Israel, and in Japan when I volunteered there after the tsunami,” Spanglet said. “By combining faith and/or spirituality with mindfulness, one’s ability to cope is strengthened.”

And that, the therapist said, can help build resilience.

Sderot - Border - Community - Bomb - Shelters

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