Shalom Life | August 05, 2014

Canadians Learn How Bar-Ilan University Cares for Traumatized Families During Operation Protective Edge

Members of Toronto's Jewish community gathered to learn about cases being treated by the University’s Loss and Trauma Clinic

By: ShalomLife Team

Published: July 31st, 2014 in Health » Israel

Mothers in fear of venturing too far from safety rooms and panicked about where they’ll hide if sirens blare while they’re in the car with their children. Parents struggling to go to work for fear of leaving their children. Children reverting to bedwetting due to stress and anxiety. A nine-year-old girl who refuses to sleep in the dark and panics when the light is turned off or a window is opened.

These are just some of the effects that Operation Protective Edge has had on Israelis -- from north to south and east to west -- under constant barrage of rockets from Gaza. And an even greater fear is developing following attempts by Hamas terrorists to infiltrate Israel through a sophisticated network of tunnels they’ve built from Gaza to Israeli villages within close proximity.

This week, members of Toronto’s Jewish community gathered together at an event organized by the Canadian Friends of Bar-Ilan University (CFBIU) to hear about cases such as these which are being treated by the University’s Loss and Trauma Clinic, headed by Prof. Tuvia Peri. The event was hosted by Mrs. Gabi Weisfeld, National President of CFBIU, who generously supports the Loss and Trauma Clinic.

The Clinic’s specially-trained trauma specialists are providing assistance to those in emotional distress through a variety of services, including individual treatment, group therapy, and seminars and workshops -- for parents of combat soldiers, and for parents and children -- which are geared toward imbuing participants with the tools necessary to cope with the stress and anxiety they have been facing this summer. Parents are also being trained to communicate with their children and create activities for them which are aimed at preventing or minimizing long-term effects of stress. The Clinic also works with bereaved families.

“Bar-Ilan’s strong and historical commitment to the community is being demonstrated once again during this horrific crisis though the activities of the Clinics,” explained Dr. Merav Galili, Director of Global Resource Development Operations at the University. The University has provided outpatient diagnostic and therapeutic services to Israelis since 1970, and its outpatient clinic is unique in that it is the only community mental health clinic in Israel that is part of an academic institution, she added.

The Clinic also treats soldiers in combat. Dr. Galili spoke of a case in which a soldier on patrol in Judea and Samaria carried on a gun battle with terrorists – then lost sight of them – before they murdered a pregnant woman, her husband and another man. Overwhelmed by his sense of guilt for failing to protect the victims, the soldier suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which improved significantly following treatment.

In another case, a Golani soldier on furlough spotted a female suicide bomber in Jerusalem but failed to shoot her before she activated a bomb, killing those around her, including a relative of the soldier. He, too, suffered from PTSD and guilt which affected his ability to function and lead a normal life, symptoms which improved following treatment by the Clinic.

“At this horrible time for the State of Israel, we feel we need to be connected to our Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel,” said Gilad Abrahami, of Toronto, who participated in the event. “Bar-Ilan University, through its Loss and Trauma Clinic, is giving us the opportunity to help and to ensure that soldiers, their families, and the young children of Israel will feel emotionally secure.”


Photo Caption: (left to right, courtesy Bar-Ilan University): Dr. Merav Galili, Director of Global Resource Development Operations, Bar-Ilan University, CFBIU National President Gabi Weisfeld, event participant Shoel Silver and Gillian Sinclair, Associate Director, CFBIU

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