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Israel Trauma Coalition returns to Pittsburgh

Site of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill where a shooting took 11 lives. Photo taken on October 31, 2018

Within hours of the October 27th attack, the team from the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) was already on a plane to Pittsburgh. Contacting JFCS directly, they introduced themselves and offered to send ITC staff to Pittsburgh to help us respond to the situation on the ground.  Over the phone, they provided some basic suggestions about how we might want to structure service delivery in the days and weeks following the attack.

The Israel Trauma Coalition was formed to help survivors of war and terrorist attacks. This group of representatives from different Israeli organizations might be called emergency healers.“We offer a holistic, collaborative approach to building a continuum of care for individuals and communities affected by trauma,” according to their website.

They spent the days following the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh with first responders, therapists, victims, schools, parents and more. “They were supportive in ways we didn’t even know we needed,” said Stefanie Small, director of clinical services at JFCS.

In the months since, JFCS has gone on to coordinate counseling opportunities to everyone and anyone in the community who continues to suffer from the impact of this life-changing event. (See the March counseling schedule.)

One of the lessons learned is that repercussions will continue, birthdays and anniversaries will reignite the feelings of loss, and everyone will have to come to terms with the fact that “it can happen here.”

Now, with the help of the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh and funding from the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Israel Trauma Coalition will return to Pittsburgh and JFCS. They will be here for a week in early April. Sessions will be geared for specific groups: therapists, clergy and other community professionals.

“There are two general goals of this visit,” said Jordan. “For therapists, it’s training in trauma therapy; for others it’s training in recognizing trauma in the people they serve, so that they can be referred for help.”

“JFCS has been on the forefront of the healing efforts in this community,” said Stefanie. “We look forward to spending some more time with these experts so we can prepare for the longer journey ahead.”