Work together to avoid traumatising Miami survivors, Israeli charity urges

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Work together to avoid traumatising Miami survivors, Israeli charity urges

United Hatzalah, which is offering psychological support to survivors and victims' families, says agencies must coordinate on the ground

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

Rescue workers were at the site of the collapsed building for a fifth day on Monday (Photo: Reuters)
Rescue workers were at the site of the collapsed building for a fifth day on Monday (Photo: Reuters)

Israeli teams remained on the ground in Florida on Monday as rescuers continued for a fifth day to search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed apartment block.

Nine people were confirmed dead but over 150 remain missing in a heavily Jewish neighbourhood of Surfside, near Miami.

Firefighters and other rescue workers were using sniffer dogs as well as radar and sonar devices to try pinpoint survivors beneath the debris.

Officials told breakfast news programmes on US television that they were still hopeful that people could be pulled out alive.

Meanwhile a comprehensive relief operation is underway in Surfside, with Jewish and Israeli organisations providing shelter, food and psychological support.

Israeli Diaspora Affairs minister Nachman Shai has led a humanitarian delegation including an IDF team to the area, while a 24/7 kosher kitchen provided thousands of hot meals and drinks to families and first responders at a nearby hotel.

United Hazalah’s Hadas Rucham and Dr Sharon Slater assist the IDF in gathering information about a missing person (Photo: United Hatzalah)

Specialists from United Hatzalah trained in psychological traumas have met local Jewish community leaders to discuss how to help survivors and victims’ families cope with the effects of the disaster.

Dovie Maisel, who is leading the Hatzalah mission in Surfside, said it was important that rescue agencies coordinated their response.

He said: “The worst thing operationally is to create a situation where dozens of care and assistance groups come in and all start trying to do therapy on a single individual or a few different individuals but end up traumatising them, due to the number of times that person would have to repeat the story over and over and over again to people from different organisations.

“The tragedy that these people lived through is one that for many can be incredibly debilitating. What we need to ensure is that we are treating them and not causing more harm.”

Among those receiving support was a man described as “completely distraught” who simply kept repeating the names of his family members who were missing in the rubble.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: