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“Coping With Trauma: Hostages, Refugees And Victims” – Join Us This Friday Evening, February 2, at 7:00 p.m. For Our Annual HIAS Refugee Shabbat   

02/05/2024 11:50:26 AM


Dear Haverim,


“I ran so fast,

I couldn’t look over my shoulder. I ran so fast,
I didn’t feel my legs.
I ran so fast,

the child clinging to my hip thought we, like birds, were flying.
I ran so fast I out-ran my fear.

When we reached the sea,
I just kept running.
We were running for our lives,
with nothing more than what we could carry on our backs.

We left our homes, our community, everything we knew.

Always the stranger.

That was long ago,
but you must not forget.
When you see the refugee
washed ashore on rafts through waters that did not part,

remember me, your ancestor, a slave.
Remember the people of your tribe.
When you see the refugee children,
hungry for the mothers and fathers who did not survive,

looking to the sky for manna that does not fall,

remember where you came from.
The Eternal freed us from Egypt by a mighty hand,
by an outstretched arm.
When you see the refugee today, remember this.
They are the strangers, and you are free.
The hands of free people are mighty
and yours are the outstretched arms.
Run to them.”

                             Desiree O’Clair, “In The Voice of Our Mothers” Haggadah


“Right now, someone is being raped in a tunnel,” testified former Gaza hostage Aviva Siegel at a Knesset hearing.  “I saw it with my own eyes,” she added, and the victims consisted of both women and men.


Israeli hostages in Gaza, captured Ukrainians tortured by Russians, political prisoners, exploited children and so many millions of other victims around the world are suffering from trauma, individual and collective.


The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) has worked on behalf of refugees and displaced people for over 120 years and is the world’s oldest refugee agency.  Founded to assist Jews fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe, HIAS has become a multi-continent humanitarian aid and advocacy organization with thousands of employees around the world.


Dedicated to “Tikkun Olam”/repairing the world, HIAS’ stated purpose has always been for endangered people of all ethnicities, nationalities and religions –


            “to rescue people whose lives are in danger for being who they are; protect the most

            vulnerable refugees, helping them build new lives and reuniting them with their

            families in safety and freedom; advocate for the protection of refugees and assure

            that displaced people are treated with the dignity they deserve.”


Israel now has thousands of displaced citizens within its borders and more than 130 hostages trapped in Gaza.  Gazan Palestinians feel the trauma of continual internal displacement and war.  Ukrainian soldiers have fought valiantly against an immense Russian military and now wonder how long the West will continue to support their independence.  Terror attacks, war and natural disasters around the world compound the losses and psychological and physical trauma experienced by so many victims.


That’s why we’ve invited two incredible speakers to teach us about personal and collective stress and coping, to help each of us personally, and to expand our understanding and empathy for tragedies around the world.


Roxane Cohen Silver, Ph.D. is Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Institutional Research, and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychological Science, in the Department of Medicine, and in the Program in Public Health at the University of California, Irvine, where she has been actively involved in research, teaching, and administration since 1989. An international expert in the field of stress and coping, Dr. Silver has spent over four decades studying acute and long-term psychological and physical reactions to stressful life experiences, including personal losses and larger collective traumas such as terror attacks, war, infectious disease outbreaks, and natural disasters across the world. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Public Health Service.


Dr. Silver has guided governments in the U.S. and abroad in the aftermath of natural disasters and terrorist attacks and served for a decade on numerous senior advisory committees and task forces for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, providing advice to the Department and its component agencies on the psychological impact of disasters and terrorism. She has twice testified to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space and Technology and she is Past-President of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS) (serving on their board for 6 years) and she served in 2016 as President of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. She was also a founding Director and Chair of the Board of Directors of Psychology Beyond Borders and she is a member of University Synagogue.


Natalia Frolova, PhD is Associate Professor at Dnipro National University, Faculty of Psychology and Social Work, in the Department of Age and Pedagogical Psychology, graduating with honors in 1994.  She is currently a Fulbright Scholar at the University of California, Irvine, working under the mentorship of Dr. Roxane Cohen Silver in the Department of Psychological Science.


In 1998, she defended her dissertation at Kyiv National University with her dissertation topic on the "Transformation of the System of Personality Values, Induced by the Crisis in the Society (Psychological Aspect)." Nearly everyone in her country, Ukraine, is suffering from some form of trauma from the war. People have been displaced, have seen their loved ones killed and their homes bombed, leaving them shocked and panicked. Dr. Frolova is at UCI to study this collective traumatizing process so that she can build a system to help people to be strong and resilient after the war ends. She has studied and worked in Israel, as well.


So, please join us this Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. to learn, to grow and to act.  (Click here to RSVP to attend in person.)


Shavua Tov/Have a meaningful week,



Rabbi Arnie Rachlis

Wed, April 24 2024 16 Nisan 5784