JF&CS Offers Support for Those Impacted by Israel War

October 11, 2023

JF&CS Offers Support for Those Impacted by Israel War

Republished from Atlanta News First

By Atlanta News First staff

Published: Oct. 10, 2023 at 11:08 PM EDT

DUNWOODY, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Every day, more and more videos and images emerge out of Israel. For many, it can be daunting. In fact, it’s leaving an impact for many in the Jewish community across metro Atlanta.

The Jewish Family & Career Services Atlanta (JF&CS) provides emotional support to families impacted by the war in Israel. The organization has provided support to Jewish and non-Jewish families for years, but organization leaders said they are standing with Israel during this difficult time.

Many of the employees are hurting from this loss.

“I am heartbroken. Truly heartbroken. Cannot believe the unimaginable happened and I’m also defiantly resolute that we will stand with Israel and that there will be justice,” said Terri Bonoff, CEO of JF&CS. “We have a staff of about 200 people, and we have Jewish staff, non-Jewish staff. I started hearing from the staff who have family members in Israel right away. They were sad, scared, despaired and just unimaginable terror. And so we knew that we wanted to help.”

Bonoff said on Monday, her office held a meeting for staff following the attack on Israel over the weekend.

“We gathered 200 of our staff over the noon hour, and we just let people share about what was happening. They told us stories about their family members. They share their fears, they shared their sense of hopelessness and by doing that, we were able to bring peace and comfort just in that room and that is what we hope for when people will reach out to us,” Bonoff said.

JF&CS has an Israeli Crisis Support line running right now to support anyone hurting.

“The work that we’re doing right now to support the Israeli crisis support line is something that we’re doing at no cost to the callers,” Bonoff said.

“We’ll hear their pain. We may be able to help them in that conversation. We may refer them if there’s something more help that they need,” Bonoff said. “If they need, for example, financial assistance. If they need other kinds of help, we’d refer them.”

They also have support for kids.

“It is the hardest on kids. Imagine how you tell children that for example, that their brother or sister has to fight in Israel, or their grandparents are in Israel, and they see what’s happening on TV or they hear about it at school, it is devastating. We as parents have to find ways to talk to kids to make the world a little less scary. We have resources on our website that talk to parents about how to do and we can help with that as well,” Bonoff said. “It is such a traumatic trigger, and we want to do all we can so that we can help our kids, so they don’t have lifelong-lifelong symptoms that come from this experience.”

Support is also available for Holocaust survivors.

“What we find the most relevant to our work is the impact on our holocaust survivors. These holocaust survivors went through the unimaginable and we promised as a world, never again. They are now seeing what’s happening. It is incredibly triggering for them and so our team is reaching out to each of those who are in our care and support to make sure they’re okay and to be there just to offer comfort and warm hand and a warm voice,” she said.

Bonoff said they want people to know they are there to help them heal, as many of the people who work at JF&CS are impacted too.

“One of my staff members has a dad who’s 83 years old and his mom is with him as well. But they’re trying to get back. His dad is sick. They want to come home. They can’t get a flight,” Bonoff said. “People have many different things happening as we’re all trying to hold what is going on.”

She encourages people who are struggling to limit coverage of the war.

“Try not to watch. It is so painful. I was talking to one of my clinicians who said she just had to turn off the TV. Her family is there. Her mother heard an aerated siren and she laid down on the road. She was in her 80s,” Bonoff said.

Overall, she wants people to know there is help for all.

“If you call, right now, you will get a voicemail that says, please leave your name, and number, let us know how we can help, and we will get back to you immediately,” she said. “They’re not alone and at times like this, it’s really important that we come together. That together, we can bring comfort and help you heal.”

If you or your loved one needs emotional support, you can call 770.677.9399, text 678.460.9018, or email israelsupport@jfcsatl.org.

For more information about other resources like mental health and guidance on how to talk to your child about the war, click here.

Copyright 2023 WANF. All rights reserved.

Sign up to receive the Feel Better Letter from JF&CS Clinical Services.