UJA Mission Delivers Trauma Support to Israel

At the close of a recent UJA-Federation of New York mission to Israel that saw more than 160 participants stand in solidarity with the Jewish state, UJA-Federation presented the newly formed Israel Trauma Coalition with a check for $800,000.


The funds, which come after 19 months of Middle East violence, will help assist a population that is suffering from the strain and fear of living under the constant threat of terror.


Comprised of seven leading Israeli trauma organizations that are funded by UJA-Federation, the coalition is both strengthening each organization’s ability to cope with the current situation and helping to develop a more comprehensive network of services available to Israelis.


Every single Israeli is feeling the emotional and psychological effects of this prolonged cycle of violence, and thus trauma-relief services have become more important than ever,” said John Ruskay, UJA-Federation’s executive vice president and CEO. “This latest grant will allow these remarkable agencies to reach more people in need, develop new programs, and make services more accessible for people in all parts of the country.”


“Every single Israeli is feeling the emotional and psychological effects of this prolonged cycle of violence, and thus trauma-relief services have become more important than ever.”


– John Ruskay, executive vice president & CEO of UJA-Federation

The seven coalition members are: the Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War (NATAL), the Israeli Center for Holocaust Survivors and the Second Generation (AMCHA), Israel Association for Emotional Aid by Phone (ERAN), Herzog Hospital’s Israel Center for the Treatment of Psycho-trauma, the Center for Community Stress Prevention, the Israel Crisis Management Center(ICMC; SELAH in Hebrew), and Beit Loewinstein. The new funds, which are facilitating an exchange of professional ideas and creating a more cooperative effort among the organizations, may also enable additional agencies to join.

The grant was presented to coalition coordinator Tali Levanon at a May 1 ceremony that came near the conclusion of a 72-hour UJA-Federation mission to Israel. The whirlwind visit let New Yorkers assess firsthand the devastating effect terrorism has had on both the nation’s people and economy.

Two of the mission’s most poignant moments included a visit with victims of terror who are recovering at Hadassah Hospital and a service held at the Park Hotel in Netanya, where a suicide bomber killed 29 Israelis who had gathered for the Passover Seder.

“Just as we brought a message of hope and support to the men and women of Israel, we were equally inspired and invigorated by the spirit and dedication of the Israeli people,” said UJA-Federation President Larry Zicklin.

The scene of several past attacks, Netanya is home to a sizeable population of Russian-speaking émigrés. One of the key goals of the latest grant is to further efforts to develop more trained trauma professionals, particularly those who can serve non-Hebrew-speakers. Since terror is indiscriminate in its victims, relief organizations are in need of staff that can effectively assist Israel’s diverse populations.

UJA-Federation executive vice president and CEO, John Ruskay, (center) chats with the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, and his wife Sheila at a mission event.

Specifically, the $800,000 grant will provide $400,000 for the development of a national trauma center; $180,000 for professional and volunteer training and support; $165,000 for programs and services directed toward children and families; and $55,000 for programs in conjunction with Soroka Hospital in the Negev and Schneider Children’s Medical Center.

he grant comes from UJA-Federation’s recently-launched Standing with Israel: The Israel Emergency Fund, and represents the organization’s ongoing commitment to alleviating the overwhelming pressures being experienced by so many Israeli men, women, and children.

“By coordinating among the member agencies and pooling their expertise and skills, we’re making possible new programs that best address the developing mental health needs of Israelis today,” said Laurence Belfer, chair of the Israel Emergency Fund’s allocations committee.

In addition, the coalition is making information available to professionals in the United States and around the world. Just as New York’s mission to Israel touched down in Tel Aviv, a number of Israel’s leading trauma specialists — including, Dr. Danny Brom of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma , Dr. Mooli Lahad of the Center for Community Stress Prevention, and Judith Recanati of NATAL — arrived in New York to report on the situation in Israel and meet with professionals from UJA-Federation supported agencies here in New York.

For local trauma specialists still helping individuals cope with the events of September 11, the visit gave them a chance to share ideas with their Israeli counterparts on how to treat sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder and discuss approaches to helping people deal with ongoing terror, particularly children.

“We’re attempting to build islands of resiliency, empowering people with the feeling that they can help themselves and the community,” said Lahad.