Close to 20 years ago, Chai Lifeline CEO Rabbi Simcha Scholar and I developed Project Chai as way to broaden the services of Chai Lifeline to the greater community by providing intervention for crisis and trauma, which went beyond medical conditions. We aimed to provide formal training in the community for committed individuals to serve as first responders in a range of emergency circumstances. Nearly eight years ago, Rabbi Scholar asked me to serve as director of Project Chai.
My day is packed. Baruch HaShem yet l’tzareinu. Teams have been trained across the globe, and I travel throughout North America, Europe, and Australia conducting a structured sequence of seminars on crisis intervention, and travel frequently to consult with schools, rabbis and educators, and others when crises occur. Between emails and calls, I am contacted about 50 times throughout a typical day. I also supervise the Project Chai team members, and team leaders, offering them focused guidelines and regulations as they plan and implement their interventions. I author articles, handouts, guidelines, protocols, and resources for Chai Lifeline to distribute to individuals, families, institutions, and communities worldwide. In my spare time, I have a private practice of forensic and clinical psychology, am Rav of a shul, a magid shiur, and serve as a Dayan.
The wonderful moment, for me, comes when a volunteer realizes that they have made a strong difference in the life of someone in pain. Getting a call from a team member or watching their face on Zoom as they share their experience—seeing and hearing the tears of relief and exultation that they made an impact on someone’s suffering—can lift me up and prompt me to feel that this work is worthwhile.