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A Profoundly Moving Meeting of 2G in Boca Raton

This past week I had the honor of presenting once again at Rales Jewish Family Service in Boca Raton, FL. My presentations focused on the effects of trauma on survivors of the Holocaust and other survivors of trauma; the interaction of past traumatic experiences with the aging process and the impact of trauma on the relationships with healthcare providers. I also discussed intergenerational transmission of various effects related to parental trauma to the children and even grandchildren of survivors, and recent research findings suggesting that parental trauma negatively impacts objective and subjective aspects of adaptation to aging in the second generation, many of whom are now entering their own later phase in life.

I was invited by Avital Merizon, a woman with a great heart who exudes positive energy, warmth and a “can do” attitude. Avital, who was born in the Ukraine before her family immigrated to Israel, has greatly expanded the services that JFS Rales offers to a particularly vulnerable group of survivors, those elderly Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who suffered the traumatic events of the Holocaust and then the traumatic experiences of living under Communism. These elderly individuals often did not even realize they were considered Holocaust survivors, and did not know how to access the services that were available to survivors, until the appropriate reaching out was done by Avital.

In line with the recognition that ALL individuals working with trauma survivors need to understand the effects of trauma in clients, as well as in the clients families and in the providers of service themselves, I presented to the entire staff of the agency, who were more than interested in understanding the experiences of the survivors they serve.

I then presented to clinicians, many of whom arrived from various other agencies in the area, and others who work with survivors in the community around.

In the evening, I presented a lecture and a discussion for 2G and 3G which was attended by over 200 people! It was profoundly moving to feel the unique connection and the intense sense of sharing and of “togetherness” that permeated the entire evening. It was deeply moving and meaningful for me. I am grateful to have the privilege of meeting my fellow 2G and to connect in such an intimate way.

I am grateful to Avital Meirzon and her staff for making my visit so pleasant, and to “Next Generation” for their partnership in organizing the event, which was made possible by funding from JFNA. I learned that the participants have already contacted Avital for assistance in organizing a consistent forum for monthly meetings! What an incredibly positive momentum was created! I wish my 2G fellows wonderful experiences in creating their local, real (not online!) warm communities of friendship and mutual support!

                    Irit Felsen

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