Dr. Talia Levanon, Director of the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC), which mobilizes over 40 organizations worldwide to prepare for and respond to catastrophes as well as in between crises, met with Federation donors in Los Angeles recently to share insights about her work and to thank them for their generous support. Based in Jerusalem, the ITC has established internationally recognized protocols for responding to emergencies. Some of its headline-making work was demonstrated here in the U.S. after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombing. The visit was particularly timely given the current events in Israel.
Our Federation’s Caring for Jews in Need strategic initiative has supported the ITC’s unique direction, leading the global community in training first responders of populations living in constant crisis, and enabled the ITC to expand services in northern Israel. By focusing on the acute phase of catastrophic events and therapeutic outcomes as well, this ITC shift is resulting in long-term intervention with caregivers and responders and not just victims of tragedies. Said Dr. Levanon, “The L.A. Federation was one of the first communities to recognize the importance of providing training and services between occurring emergencies. Our model is one of resilience, relying on the strength of the people in a given community. We invest in human infrastructure.”
The ITC’s extensive experience in the distressed Gaza region of Israel has provided a wealth of learning regarding working with exposed, high risk communities. Dr. Levanon reported that the ITC’s work in 30 cities in Israel comprising populations each with its own set of customs and norms has led to increased understanding and effectiveness in strengthening communities. The Bedouin and Druze communities, for example, do not typically comply with safety directives issued by Home Front Command. In working with the imams, or spiritual leaders, the ITC has made significant strides in understanding the sensitivities of these communities and ultimately persuading them to close the marketplace during times of conflict.
Situational hospital training by the ITC has included pre and post chemical weapons usage and earthquake recovery. In addition to the U.S. and Israel, the organization’s impact has been felt in Canada, Chechnya, Haiti, Japan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine and in many other countries. In the Philippines, our Federation allocated funds which enabled the ITC to participate in a scoping mission and work with local education, health and welfare ministries to create infrastructure and a cadre of trained professionals and volunteers.
While here in L.A., Dr. Levanon met with Federation donors in the Conejo, as well as with members of the Federation’s Caring for Jews in Need strategic initiative and leaders from the City of Los Angeles. Said Lynette Brown, who Chairs the Caring For Jews in Need strategic initiatives along with her husband, Derek Brown, “It’s wonderful to play a role in all this great work and its far-reaching impact. We want more philanthropic, caring Jews of Los Angeles to know about the excellent work of Dr. Levanon and the ITC and the miracles they are making happen every day across the globe. As we speak, the ITC is organizing its networks to deal with the current crisis of rockets raining down on Israel, and because of their expertise, professional staff and volunteers are poised to deal with the ensuing trauma and terror.”
For more information on the Federation’s partnership with ITC or our Caring For Jews in Need strategic initiative, please contact Lori Klein, Senior Vice President, Caring for Jews in Need at LKlein@JewishLA.org or (323) 761-8165.