OHEL’s Trauma Team Provides Family and Community-Wide Support in Face of Florida Tragedy

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Two weeks ago in North Miami Beach, a 10-year old boy died tragically.

OHEL was asked to help respond to the family, and local schools, who did not have the expertise and resources on hand.

In coordination with Mark Rosenberg head of the community’s Chesed Shel Emes, OHEL immediately dispatched members of the Trauma Team including Dr. Norman Blumenthal,the Zachter Family Chair in Trauma and Crisis Counseling at OHEL, and colleagues Tzivy Reiter and Tzvi Wesson, who together flew to North Miami Beach.

OHEL’s Trauma Team met with the boy’s family, as well as with the faculty of Yeshivas Toras Chaim Toras Emes, and Lubavitch Educational Center where the niftar and his siblings attended school.

The team provided guidance and support to the faculty, many of whom were themselves grieving, on how to address this tragedy with the students and the parents – especially in an age of social media, where misinformation and rumors can run rampant.

The following day, OHEL’s Trauma staff spoke to a number of parents who sought advice on how best to speak to their children of the news of the boys’ tragic passing.

Dr. Blumenthal additionally spoke with second grade parents on a conference call, providing support and guidance to what had understandably become a traumatic event for the entire community to absorb, and process.

OHEL’s Trauma Team does the heavy-lifting in the community, and responds to the immediate, and long-term needs after a tragedy – helping to rebuild lives, long after the news headlines have passed. In this case, OHEL has continued to provide ongoing consultation and support to family members, schools and the wider community.

As Derek Saker, OHEL’s Director of Communications explains, “While OHEL’s Trauma Team does the most impactful work 24/7, it is also often work most unseen – to protect the anonymity of community members. In this case, the immediate family felt that publicizing OHEL’s work could not only help others affected by this particular tragedy, but any other befallen trauma – and help get the professional help needed.”

Rabbi Kalman Baumann, Principal of the Yeshiva wrote a very warm thank you note expressing appreciation for the OHEL Trauma team’s ‘invaluable reassurance to parents’. The most poignant words came from the mother of the boy, who conveyed to OHEL’s Trauma Team, “You brought a little bit of peace into a mother’s heart.”

OHEL’s Trauma Team, based at the New OHEL Jaffa Family Campus in Flatbush, provides a gamut of trauma support services from bereavement counseling, to crisis counseling for communities impacted by natural disasters, from seminars & trainings for mental health professionals, to education and counseling for First Responders. Services and resources are available in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Spanish and Chinese. For further information, please contact OHEL Access at 1800-603-OHEL, www.ohelfamily.org or access@ohelfamily.org