Addressing the growing need for mental health first-responders in Jewish communities around the globe, Rabbi Dr. David Fox, Director of Chai Lifeline Crisis Services, recently travelled to London to train local educators and communal leaders in trauma response.
In recent years, Chai Lifeline has been instrumental in working with communities around the world in the wake of all types of disasters, attacks, tragedies, and traumatic events.
A highly respected forensic and clinical psychologist, rabbi, and dayan, Rabbi Dr. Fox’s methods are based on the latest research in emotional psychology and specifically oriented for the cultural and behavioral needs of Orthodox Jews.
Over the course of several days, Rabbi Dr. Fox held training intensive sessions with members of the Crisis Intervention and Trauma Support (CITS), a coalition of London-based agencies and organizations in the religious community formed to collaborate in the field of crisis support. Understanding the respect and position held by rabbanim and dayanim in supporting community initiatives, Rabbi Dr. Fox also met with members of London’s Hatzola and Kesher, and spent hours answering halakhic and other questions at a Melave Malka (meal after the conclusion of the Sabbath) session.
“We know that we need to be increasingly prepared for all types of traumas that can affect our families and communities, because the impact of a singular event can have long-term effects even years later,” Rabbi Dr. Fox explained. “At Chai Lifeline’s Crisis Services, we have been on the ground with all sorts of personal, family, and community tragedies in recent years and see it as our personal responsibilities to ensure that those lessons are being applied for the benefit of other communities around the world.”
Following the in-person courses, Rabbi Dr. Fox will remain in touch with all the participants and will serve as a consultant and supervisor for continued training or specific cases.
For over two decades, Chai Lifeline's Crisis Services have provided families, schools, camps, and community groups around the globe with an unprecedented level of resources and services in the aftermath of a tragedy. Starting in the first few hours after a crisis occurs, Chai Lifeline's trained paraprofessionals support the affected families and facilitate community responses. The Crisis Services volunteers are uniquely suited to address the needs of the community as they are members of the community and understand the cultural, religious, and emotional background of those who need their services. Volunteers offer immediate support following crises, guiding and supporting community leaders, teachers, and educators in how to address children, families, and those impacted by trauma.
“The very nature of tragedy is that for the most part it arrives without any notice, as we’ve seen in the cases of terror and antisemitic attacks, natural disasters, building collapses, as well as personal tragedies that affect individual families and communities,” explained Rabbi Simcha Scholar, CEO of Chai Lifeline. “Our goal is to further expand the Jewish community’s largest global network of local mental health first responders who are ready and available when these disasters strike and able to implement the critical responses in times of trauma.”