Why climate anxiety is familiar to some Jews

The Forward

One morning this spring I was circling the yard behind my apartment on the phone with my therapist. I’d perfected the particular choreography of our virtual sessions. Pacing the largest outside area that didn’t necessitate a mask, I rolled exercise into the process of analyzing my family dynamics or my self-confidence deficit or my gnawing sense of existential doom.

That week, the topic was doom. Specifically, the climate crisis. As I attempted to unravel my knotted mess of feelings, differentiating the dread from the anxiety and the helplessness from the despair, she stopped me. “Were any of your grandparents Holocaust survivors?” she asked.

“No, they weren’t,” I replied. Taken aback, I started to scroll back through what I had said to find what might have tipped her off. Was it my lack of faith in governments and corporations to work in the best interest of humanity? Or expressing my primal sense of need to stay physically close to loved ones in an attempt to ensure our safety?