Ellie Rothstein

A Nation That Mourns Together, Heals Together – But How?

Copywrite 2023, Netanel Goldstein for Kav L'Noar
Copywrite 2023, Netanel Goldstein for Kav L'Noar

In an unprecedented situation where an entire nation is traumatized, each individual in their own way, the concept of ‘Kol Israel Areivim Ze Laze’ – all of Israel is responsible for one another – has never been more critical. The aftermath of the terror attack turned war has not just left a trail of destruction but a complex and ongoing landscape of trauma.

Copywrite 2023, Netanel Goldstein for Kav L’Noar

Comparisons have been drawn to 9/11, but the situation in Israel presents unique challenges. The scale of impact is staggering: over 1,400 Israelis and third-country nationals, including tens of Americans, were killed. This figure represents a devastating blow to a nation of less than 10 million, equivalent to the loss of approximately 40,000 lives in the United States. What’s more, unlike 9/11, where the immediate horror was followed by a period of recovery, Israel’s crisis is marked by ongoing uncertainty. With the war still raging, hostages remaining captive, and countless people displaced, we are tasked with addressing a mental health crisis in an active traumatic environment, a challenge seldom faced before.

A Nation’s Collective Trauma

Traditionally, trauma is treated as an event with a clear beginning and end. Therapeutic interventions are designed to address and process these experiences post-event. However, in Israel’s current scenario, the traumatic event is still unfolding. People are living in continuous uncertainty and fear, complicating the typical approaches to trauma treatment. The usual methods of coping and recovery are challenged by the ongoing nature of this crisis, making the traditional frameworks of mental health support less effective.

The scope of this particular mental health disaster varies across the country, and its full impact is yet to be understood. Typically, PTSD is considered post-trauma, but in this case, the trauma is ongoing, raising questions about the adequacy of current screening and treatment methods. With the uncertainty continuing, the trauma experienced is a ‘long-burning’ one, making it difficult to predict the eventual mental health impact and the necessary interventions for stability and functionality.

In the south, the proximity to the epicenter of the conflict intensifies the trauma, whereas in central Israel, the experiences, while different in intensity, are equally valid and impactful. The communal aspect of this trauma means that the effects ripple throughout the nation, touching lives in a myriad of often unpredictable ways. This communal trauma additionally challenges the very notion of individualized treatment methods, calling for a more holistic approach that acknowledges the shared experience of a nation under siege.

Supporting Communities in Crisis

In the face of this continuous crisis, Kav L’Noar is actively engaging with affected communities to provide crucial support. We recognize the non-linear nature of recovery in these challenging times; people who might find themselves coping one day and struggling the next. Our focus is on providing adaptable and culturally sensitive support now, to build long-term resilience.

For instance, our collaboration with The Kibbutz Business Association is focused on addressing immediate concerns, including the challenges of government support, and the stress brought on by lack of income, as experienced by the 283 businesses devastated by the massacre.

To address these challenges, Kav L’Noar is implementing general mental healthcare and resilience-building initiatives that are integrated into the daily operations of businesses. Our approach also extends to educational settings, where we are establishing social-emotional learning environments. These initiatives are designed to equip individuals with practical skills and strategies, enabling them to better manage their mental well-being amidst the fluctuating nature of the crisis.

While the trauma of the current situation has not yet passed, our efforts in understanding and addressing the evolving mental health needs are key to the healing and stability of our communities.

Learn more about how you can support Kav L’Noar’s efforts:

About the Author
Ellie began his career mentoring in gap-year programs, identifying a critical need for emotional health education. After extensive social work and psychotherapy training, he founded Shlavim in 2013, connecting educational institutions with essential mental health services. Joining Kav L'Noar in 2018, and eventually taking the helm, Ellie has spearheaded its expansion from Jerusalem to five cities, increasing its outreach to over 10,000 individuals annually. Celebrated as an innovative, responsible leader and sought-after scholar, Ellie's work in non-profit management and emotional health has significantly improved access to mental health services, especially for immigrant communities.
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