Jul 23, 2014

Day 16: Update and Report from Israel

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past week, we have heard updates on the situation in Israel from many of our partner agencies. Today, Talia Levanon, director of the Israel Trauma Coalition, shares her thoughts with us. Following her message are two reflections about life on the ground from Israelis, part of our #LivingIt series.


Jerry Silverman
President and CEO, The Jewish Federations of North America

Talia Levanon
Director, Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC)

Israelis are adept at responding to and coping with emergencies. We know where to run when sirens blare; we know how to shield ourselves on the road. But the psychological effects of constant and ongoing alarms and rocket attacks—anxiety, stress, fear, guilt—linger long after the all-clear sounds. Some refuse to walk along a route where a rocket once fell; others are hypervigilant, jumping at loud sounds like the PA system at the mall. These reactions demand a different sort of response.

For 13 years, the ITC has been working to create resilience through short- and long-term trauma care for individuals, groups, teams and communities. Since Operation Protective Edge began, our partnership with Federations has allowed to us treat even more people in need and establish seamless networks of care and support to individuals and teams.

To date, ITC team members and our partners have provided psychological first aid in homes and at our Resilience Centers to thousands in need, the overwhelming majority of them children. Hotline staffers are working around the clock to answer calls from anxious parents and vulnerable seniors. And we have arranged more than 700 group interventions with families and professional teams to address communal concerns.

ITC’s mission is to keep Israelis and their communities—the country’s core strength—together and resilient. We are stronger when we work collectively to care for and support each other—in times of crisis and beyond.


From Rachel Schneider in Jerusalem:

“I was so happy to see my sister Nina in Jerusalem. Before I could say a word, she began gasping, saying that a soldier who had been killed in Gaza was ‘hers.’ ‘Hers’ means that she spent four months instructing and guiding a group of soldiers during training. ‘Hers’ means that she was the person who taught them and worked with them day and night, side by side, on a desert army base. ‘Hers’ means that she knew them and told stories about them when she went home on the weekend. And one of hers was killed.

“As she cried, she spoke of how she had always prayed that her soldiers would never have to use what she had taught them. …She spoke of feeling a pain that she had never felt in her life as we sat on the sidewalk on a Friday morning, crying and hugging and mourning.”

From Talia Nechama in Beer Sheva:

The siren goes off just as Talia Nechama is about to start a meeting at the Ye’elim Absorption Center in Beer Sheva. After she and her colleague run to the center’s bomb shelter, Talia frantically searches for her phone to call her 12-year-old daughter, who is home alone babysitting a younger sibling. It's agonizing to be so far from her children.

“My style is that I’m a strong person,” Talia says. “Of course I have my moments. But I have to be strong for my children. If I break, what’s left?” She offers the same strength and comfort to new immigrants at Ye’elim, where she also works nights and weekends to make sure they’re not alone. “We are their pillar,” she says.

Visit our website at www.jewishfederations.org/stopthesirens.