Ukrainian refugee
Ukrainian refugeeiStock

While the practical and medical needs of the refugees from the Ukrainian war have elicited a massive international response, the emotional and mental toll the crisis is taking on refugees—as well as the global community at large—is getting far less attention.

In recent days, Chai Lifeline has been working to fill that gap by providing training and resources to Jewish communities and organizations to help people deal with the immense mental traumas that can come with such crises.

The Chai Lifeline response has been multifaceted and far-reaching. Upon the immediate news of the Russian invasion, Chai Lifeline released guidelines on talking to children about war that are available in both English and Russian and have been distributed to tens of thousands. Chai Lifeline has also offered numerous trainings to organizations and those in the field, as well as community leaders and caregivers in cities around the world as they prepare to welcome evacuees from Ukraine into their homes and communities.

“The mental health support and tools we have received from Chai Lifeline have been invaluable as we prepare for an influx of refugees here in our community,” said Rabbi Akiva Adlerstein, part of the Ukraine relief effort of Kahal Adass Jisroel in Berlin, Germany. “Their guidance has empowered us and given us encouragement during these extremely challenging times.”

For rabbis, educators, and parents, Chai Lifeline presents a webinar on “Ukraine in the Classroom,” featuring remarks by Rabbi Lipa Geldwerth, rabbi of Khal Kol Torah; Rabbi Dr. Dovid Fox, director of Chai Lifeline crisis services; and Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline CEO. The presentation offers culture-oriented and psychological guidance geared toward educators and is available online or by phone.

“Perhaps not since the Holocaust has the Western world seen a humanitarian crisis of this scope where millions of people are being ripped from their homes, that were thriving and safe places to live in just two weeks ago, amidst a fierce war of death and destruction,” said Rabbi Scholar.

“On top of the actual crisis on the ground in Ukraine is the fact that nearly the entire world is experiencing this trauma via our newspapers and other news sources. We can’t hide from the trauma, but we have a responsibility to ourselves and our children to know how to deal with it.”