(Courtesy of OHEL) OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services is extremely proud to announce that Dr. Norman Blumenthal, the Zachter Family Chair in Trauma and Crisis Counseling at OHEL, and director of the OHEL Miriam Center for Trauma, Bereavement and Crisis Response at the new OHEL Jaffa Family Campus, was honored with the Distinguished Nefesh International Esther Solomon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to field of Jewish Mental Health.
In just a few years, Dr Norman Blumenthal has rapidly led the vast expansion of OHEL’s trauma services impacting individuals, families and communities far and wide. Most often working under the radar, without fanfare or public knowledge, OHEL’s specialized and multi-disciplined trauma team works 24/7 helping those affected by trauma rebuild their lives in the days, weeks and very often months after tragegy has struck—long after the ambulance sirens and headlines have consumed the media pages.
Dr. David Pelcovitz, who holds the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology and Jewish Education at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education, spoke of Dr. Blumenthal’s community leadership and personal dedication, always and immediately making himself available to address the most tragic and pressing of traumatic circumstances of others, while never losing his humanity, and never getting burnt out.
Dr. Blumenthal spoke of his involvement in the early days of Nefesh with Nosson Solomon and how today Jewish mental health professionals are needed more than ever to address the pressing and challenging issues of a large community, and how transformative the times we live in are, when such professionals can thrive and grow like never before. The organization provides an optimum clinical environment where professionals are provided cutting-edge, high-quality, evidence-based training, and a culturally sensitive environment where training and seminars are no longer held on Shabbat.
Very importantly, Dr. Blumenthal spoke of the need to see every client as a Parsha Bifnei Atzmo and how he learned this from the teachings of his rebbe, Rabbi Aharon Kreiser, z”l, from Yeshiva University, where he studied psychology. Dr. Blumenthal related, “We have many patients who come to our offices crying but at the end of the day everyone cries alone.” The rav imbued the importance of discerning each patient’s distinct pain and needs and how every person should be seen as unique and not be categorized or lumped together with others of comparable circumstance and diagnosis.
As OHEL moves to the new OHEL Jaffa Family Campus, the success of Dr. Blumenthal’s work with the OHEL trauma team will only help to provide the foundation for further trauma outreach and support, locally and nationwide.
Dr. Blumenthal commented, “It is not that there is necessarily more trauma in our community, but that people are thankfully more proactive in getting the professional help they often need.”
OHEL’s Dr. Blumenthal is a highly sought-after speaker and has spoken at numerous OHEL events nationwide, whether addressing the stigma of mental health in the community, divorce, parenting or trauma. Additionally Dr Blumenthal continues to be one of the most popular keynote speakers at many clinical workshops and seminars conducted by the Mel and Phyllis Zachter OHEL Institute.