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Friday, May 10, 2013

Israel Trauma Coalition helps get Boston back on its feet

Israelis have experience - too much experience - dealing with terror attacks. This week, a group of Israelis came to Boston to help that city deal with the aftermath of the Boston Marathon terror attack (Hat Tip: Lance K).
“Trauma, when it comes to reside within you, is a partner that you take over the years,” said ­Talia Levanon, director of the coalition. “We’re trying to minimize the control it has over our lives.”

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“The first time is a shattering experience,” Levanon said before the session at Watertown High School Wednesday. “It shatters the assumption that the world is safe, that if you are a good person, nothing bad will happen to you.”
The team also visited the school that the bombing’s youngest victim, 8-year-old Martin Richard, attended. And the Israelis met in Watertown, Boston, and Westborough with emergency workers, medical professionals, and religious leaders.
The coalition unites about 40 organizations in Israel that also responded to Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The ­coalition’s trip is being sponsored by Combined Jewish ­Philanthropies, a Boston organization that helps people in need and advocates for Israel.
The team of six specialists emphasizes that every person’s response to trauma is individual, that people cope in their own ways, and that to care for others, people must first care for their own well-being. They use the analogy of oxygen masks on an airplane: Before you fit one over the child next to you, you must put on your own.
“There’s an expectation that as professionals, as teachers, as somebody who knows what to do, you will come and fix everything,” coalition member Ruvie Rogel told the Watertown teachers. “This is very unrealistic, especially in a situation when you are actually sharing the event with the population that you are supposed to help.”
But for those with jobs caring for others, it is not always natural to pause for their own healing.

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Coalition members, scheduled to leave Friday, have insisted they are not here to tell people how to react, but to start a dialogue about healing. The trauma will never entirely fade.
“Some people think that resilience means going back to what you were before,” Daniels said. “But actually, there’s no way back. You don’t go back, you move forward.”
 Much easier said than done....

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