N. American Jewish Federations Raise $5 Million for Southern Israel’s Mental Health Services - Yet Won't Help a Mental Health Center in Southern Israel
By David Bedein, MSW - Director, Israel Resource News Agency
Frustrated Israeli inspects the damage to her home hit by a Hamas rocket in Southern Israel last month. Photo: Eddie Israel/Israel Sun
As the southern region of Israel endured 2,000 aerial attacks launched by the Gaza Hamas regime. Michael Siegal, the incoming chair of the JFNA Jewish Federations of North America Board of Trustees, ascended the podium of the General Assembly of Jewish Federations on November 14, 2012 in Baltimore and addressed the barrage of rockets raining down on Israel’s southern region.
“15 seconds,” Michael Siegal said, “15 seconds. That’s the amount of time in which one needs to be able to get to a shelter after a warning siren is sounded,” he told the crowd. “Can you imagine what that means for a young mother caring for three small children?” Siegal then turned his head to the representatives of Israel sitting in the audience.
“Send our prayers and our love to the people of Israel, & tell them that our thoughts are with them now as they always are.”
Less than ten days later, indeed, the JFNA Jewish Federations of North America announced an emergency allocation of five million dollars to address the mental health needs of the citizens of southern Israel. http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/11/16/3112091/jfna-establishes-new-israel-relief-fund-commits-5-million-chicago-pledges-1-million
The staff of the Sderot Regional Mental Health Center followed press reports of Siegal's remarks and expressed appreciation for the new allocation of funds for mental health services in southern Israel
That is because the Sderot Regional Mental Health Center remains terribly short of mental health staff to handle the continuing emergency situation.
Instead of 10 mental health professionals on call at all times to handle a case load of more than 3,000 active cases of severe trauma distress, the Sderot Regional Mental Health Center only has budget to retain only two and a half positions in mental health treatment, with the promise of an one more eventual professional staff position from the Israel Ministry of Health.
In that context, the Sderot Regional Mental Health Center applied to the Jewish Federations of North America for a special allocation at this time from JFNA funds raised for the mental health needs of southern Israel at this time..
JFNA considered the request over a period of four weeks. During that time, JFNA did not visit the Sderot Regional Mental Health Center.
Instead, JFNA coldly confirmed on Sunday of this week that JFNA will not help the Sderot Regional Mental Health Center.
Sources at JFNA said that that JFNA prefers to only help “resiliency centers” through the "Israel Trauma Coalition" which provide counseling to people in need...
Resilience centers do not treat cases of possible mental breakdown - which is the province of a mental health center.
Sources at the Israel Trauma Coalition say that they will not help the Sderot Regional Mental Health Center, for political reasons.
The Israel Trauma Coalition does not want to "embarrass" the Israeli government, which, as they see it. "should" fund the Sderot Regional Mental Health Center
While the Sderot Regional Mental Health Center does receive some funding from the Israeli government, it also receives funds from The Barzelei hospital in Ashkelon and is authorized to receive donations - not only from the government of Israel.
So there you have it:
Jewish federations raised five million dollars for mental health needs of the people of southern Israel during this time of stress and trauma, yet it will not provide one cent to help the Sderot Mental Health center, because of political considerations.
Federations raise $5 million for mental health in southern Israeli and won't help a mental health center that services Southern Israel.
Where is the accountability of the JFNA?