Years ago, mid-career as a research clinical psychologist, serendipity led me to switch my work into post-traumatic stress disorder when the field was brand new. With a wonderful boss and mentor, I had the opportunity to help build the VA’s National Center for PTSD and work with traumatized front-line personnel in the military and public health arenas. The work was especially gratifying: Few had recognized how much young men and women were suffering silently. Little did I imagine that something like this would personally impact my life and others through an international pandemic.
As COVID raged this winter, I grew concerned over the tremendous stress again being placed on those in the healthcare services. I called on several colleagues at TBE to see if we might offer support to these individuals. We soon realized there was a need for a broader response: the pandemic was affecting nearly all of us at TBE, regardless of setting. Together with Cantor Sufrin, we formed an initiative to engage our community in healing, restoring hope, and building internal strength to manage our individual challenges. Acknowledging that there are many pathways toward these goals, we gathered with our clergy and TBE’s Caring Community to create a series of restorative and strength-building opportunities for members. We chose Darchei Tikvah (Pathways to Hope) as the name for our initiative, inspired by our community’s vision and values: As we pursue our paths to shalom, we know that shalom, or wholeness, requires mending and feeling well in body, mind, and soul.
In June, we held a healing service comprised of prayers, contemplative moments and music designed to build courage and strengthen our resilience through a shared experience. In July, Marsha Mirkin, joined by Harriet Segal and Naomi Cameron, began a group to explore coping through writing, welcoming all members interested in writing together. Also in the works, a “mending workshop,” an intergenerational experience led by Caron Tabb and teen members of our Havayah community, which will encourage creativity through art.
We are exploring a program on stress and resilience that will review the impact of severe stress and positive steps for coping. Additionally, we are developing a collection of resources that members can access whenever needed: a new section on our website that would offer healing resources through a dynamic, “always on” collection of writings, reflections, songs, prayers and images that will grow as TBE members contribute their work.
Thank you to my fellow members of Darchei Tikvah for helping to provide our community with resources for healing: Stan Berman, Andrew Compaine, Deb Gotbetter, Carolyn Kohlman, Cynthia Pill, Caron Tabb, Rabbi Rachel Saphire.
If you would like to be involved, please reach out to me. We hope you will join us on this path of personal and communal restoration and renewal.