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Stuart Katz

Judicial Reform and Trauma: What’s the Connection?

Judicial Reform and Trauma: What’s the Connection?

You know that feeling when you’re deep in a discussion about judicial reform, or any other major social change, and you suddenly realize you’re really, really stressed? Well, you’re not alone. It turns out that debating serious issues can, ironically, be a bit like juggling live porcupines: prickly, challenging, and a potential source of trauma. And while public protests on the Ayalon or at the airport may be as exhilarating as a rollercoaster ride, they can also be just as stomach-churning for some participants.

Now, trauma isn’t always as obvious as a porcupine’s spine to the hand. It’s more like the aftermath of stealing a cookie before dinner as a kid. You might not remember the event, but the irrational fear of the cookie jar or freezer persists. Your mind may hide the traumatic memories to protect you, much like a “bad” kid might hide the evidence of their sugary crime. The real signs become visible in anxiety, depression, or a seemingly inexplicable fear of the cookie deals on prime day.

These symptoms might not shout loudly, but they’re telling a story – a bit like a mute mime artist. Understanding these silent signals is our ticket to supporting survivors better.

Just as a ‘sorry’ can go a long way when you step on someone’s foot, validation provides the comfort for those stung by trauma. Real empathy is like a warm, comforting hug that reaches out to acknowledge the silent struggles that someone is grappling with.

Creating an environment where we can chat about trauma is akin to popping the lid off a sparkling drink bottle. It breaks the silence and allows survivors to connect with others, like a trauma-survivors club but with less secret handshakes and more understanding.

Survivors of trauma aren’t just victims, they’re as resilient as a savta’s flip phone. By emphasizing this resilience, we can inspire a sense of empowerment, highlighting the superpowers survivors don’t realize they have.

Just as a Waze guides us to our destination, education serves as a map to understanding trauma. We need to sprinkle the seeds of knowledge in our schools, shuls, workplaces, and communities, cultivating a society that’s as well-versed in mental wellness as they are in the latest TikTok dance.

Building a trauma-informed society is a group project – and, unlike in school, we can’t just let that one keen classmate do all the work. Everyone needs to chip in. This means setting mental health as a priority on our societal to-do list, equipping professionals, and making resources as accessible as ordering a pizza online.

By understanding trauma, we can better understand each other. Be it Yankel from down the street, a seasoned member of Knesset, or your local Rav, we all may carry unseen wounds. Acknowledging this is like learning the secret handshake of humanity, bringing us closer together and fostering a more empathetic society.

The goal is to create a society where trauma survivors’ voices are not just heard but truly understood, kind of like when your pet seems to understand your rants about your day. In this vision, everyone, regardless of their story, is acknowledged, and their journey is validated. We can embrace trauma as a part of our shared human experience, like a collective love for pet videos.

To wrap it all up, we need to change our perspective from the loud bang of the traumatic event to the silent echo it leaves behind. It’s time to shift the narrative and recognize trauma survivors’ resilience. It’s like building a society-sized support group for the silent stories and hidden strength of those who have faced trauma. And while doing so, we should remember that our drive for change, as necessary as it is, should be as sensitive as handling a sleeping cat, so as not to add to the very trauma we’re trying to alleviate.

About the Author
Stuart is a co-founder of the Nafshenu Alenu mental health educational initiative founded in 2022. He currently serves on the Board of Visitors of McLean Hospital, affiliated with Harvard University Medical School. He serves as Chairman of the Board of OGEN – Advancement of Mental Health Awareness in Israel; chairman of Mental Health First Aid Israel and a partner in “Deconstructing Stigma” in Israel. He is on the Board of Directors of the Religious Conference Management Association. He has counseled over 7,000 individuals and families in crisis
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