South Florida Gets Its First Orthodox Trauma Center

By Hamodia Staff

Jewish community activists and first responders at the launch event.

The Orthodox Jewish community of South Florida has stepped up to face the growing need for awareness and mental-health treatment after traumatic events with the launch of its first dedicated Orthodox trauma service.

In the aftermath of the Surfside condo collapse last summer, which killed dozens of Jews among nearly 100 total victims, Ohel sent trauma experts from the Northeast to counsel the families of the victims as well as the volunteers from Chesed Shel Emes and other Jewish organizations participating in the agonizing rescue and recovery effort.

Jewish leaders realized that while the Orthodox community in South Florida has many shuls and yeshivas, restaurants and doctors’ offices, it was lacking in this essential field, of trauma experts sensitive to the Orthodox community’s unique needs and considerations, who would also assist any other community in need.

Less than a year after the tragic event that led to its creation, Ohel’s Brecher Family South Florida Trauma Services, based out of Hollywood, was born. The center will be led by Dr. Norman Blumenthal, Ohel’s Director of Trauma Services, and Tzivy Reiter, LCSW, Ohel’s Director of Trauma and Children’s Services.

The new South Florida entity will send mental-health teams to assist all faith-based communities following disasters or other traumatic events, ans will immediately reach out to schools to proactively offer assistance in improving their mental-health services.

An event was held last week at the home of Rabbi Mark Rosenberg, a police chaplain and the head of Chesed Shel Emes in Florida, to celebrate the service’s launch, and introduce the service to elected officials, first responders and school administrators, and the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Ohel CEO David Mandel spoke of the importance of the importance of having teams capable of traveling to catastrophic events as they happen. “Trauma, as we know, is based wherever it may occur,” he said. “It is a mobile operation.”

Referencing the upcoming first anniversary of the Surfside condo collapse, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava said, “Residents throughout Miami-Dade County were deeply affected by the tragic collapse of Champlain Towers South. Community leaders, first responders, and everyday citizens alike were forced to grapple with the trauma that ensued. Together, with partners like Ohel, we’ve been able to support community members as they recover from the heartbreaking event, and with the launch of Ohel’s new trauma services, we hope to provide more healing services to more residents across our region.”

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