Photo Credit: United Hatzalah
Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit training during a simulated drill in Israel.

In response to the surge in anti-Semitic incidents following the October 7th attack by Hamas on Israel, United Hatzalah has taken proactive measures to address the psychological impact on communities worldwide. The organization launched a comprehensive training program, conducted online, aimed at empowering community leaders and mental health professionals to provide timely assistance during emergencies and address the psychological trauma caused by the prevailing threats.

Commencing last Wednesday, the inaugural course was led by experienced members of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit (PCRU). Clinical Psychologist Dr. Sharon Slater and Psychologist Einat Kauffman Psy.D., experts in managing acute emotional stress in large-scale emergencies, spearheaded the sessions. The program catered to two tracks, one for lay leaders and another for mental health professionals, offering insights into adapting skills to fast-paced and chaotic emergency scenarios.


Dov Maisel, Vice President of Operations for United Hatzalah, highlighted the imperative behind these courses, stating, “The rise in hate crimes and anti-Semitism globally is profoundly impacting the Jewish community. Recognizing the growing fear among college students, synagogue members, and neighbors, we identified the urgent need for responders capable of providing immediate care for those experiencing emotional stress or trauma.”

Research underscores the distinction between immediate trauma intervention and traditional therapeutic approaches. Techniques accessible to individuals without formal mental health training can help prevent the onset of emotional and psychological disorders.

Kauffman, also a director of the PCRU, explained, “Our initial goal was to deliver a concise yet impactful course for professionals, equipping them with basic tools to adapt their work to field conditions. Simultaneously, we acknowledged the necessity of training community leaders without formal therapeutic backgrounds, enabling them to assist in their communities during emergencies or severe psychological traumas.”

Dr. Slater concluded, “Initially designed to rapidly retrain Israeli mental health professionals following the events of October 7th, this course now addresses the escalating situation in the Diaspora. Clear, focused trauma training protocols tailored to each group are being offered, with positive responses received.”

Organizers reported substantial attendance and positive reception of the courses, which will continue over the next weeks due to increased interest. The first two sessions drew nearly 100 participants, and an additional 200 have registered for upcoming sessions. Those interested in more information or registration for future sessions can email [email protected] for details.


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