Jewish Federations support 16 new mental health facilities in Israel

To improve access to mental health care since the horrific Hamas attacks, Jewish Federations are contributing nearly $7 million to a new program in partnership with the Ministry of Health that will create 16 community-based mental health centers that will provide much-needed services to 200,000 Israelis each year.

The $14 million Mental Health in the Community program is critical to help serve those suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder since October 7, allowing them to get the help they need without the stigma associated with mental illness.

Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Emergency Response Committee allocated $3.45 million to support the program and invited interested local Federations to join and help complete this effort. Chicago provided $2 million, while Toronto, Houston, and Dallas contributed $950,000, $500,000, and $300,000 respectively.  

Rebecca Caspi, Director General of Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Office, said: “Federations have raised nearly $850 million for urgent needs in Israel since October 7. Given the deeply traumatic nature of the horrific terror attacks that day, the high number of people who were and remain evacuated from their homes, and so many other aspects of the war over the past 9 months, addressing Israel’s mental health challenges is a central component of the work we were doing. This new initiative with the Ministry of Health is a very important part of that support.” 

“In the wake of October 7, the entire nation of Israel is suffering from collective trauma,” said Lonnie Nasatir, President of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago. “There is an intense need for additional, widespread psychological support—a need that will continue for years to come—and our Chicago Jewish community feels it is incumbent on us to do everything we can to help our greater Israeli family heal.” 

Jewish Federations have been at the center of the North American Jewish response to October 7th, expanding on a 100-year history of helping build, support, and sustain Israel through the good times and the bad. Federations have raised nearly $850 million to support victims of terror, providing medical and mental health support, and food and housing to displaced people, while working to rebuild shattered communities, and help local businesses affected by the war, among other things. 

Federations have worked closely with the Ministry of Health since the onset of the war to address urgent and long-term needs in Israel, which include providing mental health care services. To unlock government funding for outpatient centers, however, the Health Ministry needed a 50 percent match from an outside organization. 

The intervention centers will provide day-treatment and hospitalization for patients in need of intensive care in a welcoming environment without the stigma attached to mental health treatment in hospitals.  

Key target populations for mental health care include victims of traumatic events on October 7 with post-traumatic stress disorder, current patients facing heightened distress because of the conflict, evacuees experiencing increased anxiety, family issues, or sexual-related crises, and children and teens who would otherwise face delays in diagnosis due to lack of personnel. Additionally, thousands of caregivers and treatment providers themselves need assistance.  

Jewish Federations in Toronto and Houston made funding for the program a priority, a decision they say was easy to make. 

“The heinous attacks of October 7th and the terrible months since have ignited a growing mental health crisis throughout Israel. The consequences will be felt for decades to come, and early intervention is critical for those who are traumatized and struggling. This is why, from the first days of the war, UJA has prioritized mental health as core to our emergency response,” said Berry Meyerowitz, Co-Chair of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s Israel & Overseas Committee. 

“UJA has years of experience funding and witnessing the transformative impact of mental health services in Sderot. We have been seeking a partnership to expand this initiative on a national basis. – and recently joined the Jewish communities of Houston and Chicago, alongside the Jewish Federations of North America and Israel’s Ministry of Health, to create a network of 16 community intervention centers across the country. These centers will help to save lives, empower vulnerable individuals, and fortify Israeli resilience. We deeply appreciate the support of our partners in this critical and essential endeavor," said Adir Koschitzky, Co-Chair of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s Israel & Overseas Committee. 

“In Houston, we chose to support this work and maximize the benefit of our philanthropic dollars by partnering with the Mental Health in the Community program,” said Joe Kaplan, Jewish Federation of Greater Houston’s Israel Emergency Committee Chair. “Trauma partners from Israel came to Houston after Hurricane Harvey and provided impactful and valued relief services to our community, for which we are eternally grateful. I am very proud of the way the Houston community has stepped up to meet the significant known needs in Israel since the October 7 attacks.”