Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed Care: Workshop in Atlanta, GA, November 6-7, 2017

On November 6th  and 7th I will be presenting a workshop at the Jewish Family and Children Services in Atlanta, GA. The training will take place at the JF & CS offices on 4549 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, GA 30338.

The first day’s program will include specific separate training sessions for clinical staff, agency-wide non-clinical staff, and the Holocaust Survivor Services Team. Each of these trainings will address issues relevant to the understanding of trauma, its long-term impact on survivors, its interactions with processes that are associated with growing old, the effects of parental trauma on spouses and on the adult children of survivors, and the impact on the staff working with trauma survivor clients and their family members.

The clinical trauma training will address the generational impact of multiple types of traumatic experiences in the family, and the long-term effects of distal trauma on the survivors and their family members.

The agency-wide non-clinical training session will be geared towards all agency staff, including marketing department, front office receptionists, transportation drivers, and all others. This training will educate participants on trauma, its effects on survivors, and how to appropriately and sensitively interact with trauma survivors in the course of everyday interactions with them. This training will teach staff how to best meet the unique needs of trauma survivors, whether these survivors are our clients, colleagues, family members, or others we interact with on a daily basis. Many people have survived some sort of trauma in their lives and have been impacted by it to varying degrees, and this training will help normalize this, explain how to understand our reactions to our own traumatic experiences and to the experiences of others, and offer ways in which to best interact with trauma survivors.

In the evening, there will be a presentation and a discussion with the “Second Generation”, children of Holocaust survivors, which will open to the community.

The second day will include a “Train the Trainer” session which will teach participants to train other staff and workers at their agencies who work with Holocaust survivors to know about Holocaust survivors’ unique needs and provide appropriate care. The session will provide a brief overview of Holocaust survivor trauma and ways in which to best interact with survivors given this trauma. By the end of the session, participants will be able to relay this information to their staff members in order to maximize best practices and person-centered, trauma-informed care towards survivors. This session will be geared towards people who have managerial roles at home-care agencies so that they can train their staff and aides who work with survivors.

More information can be found from this link.

Irit Felsen

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Panel on Nov. 9: “70 Years after the Nuremberg Code: What Have We Learned?”

On November 9, 2017, I will participate in a panel discussion regarding the relevance of lessons learned from bioethics and the Holocaust, for modern scientific theory, medical practice, healthcare policy and human rights endeavors throughout the world.


This program is organized by the Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust, the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics (Haifa) Department of Bioethics and the Holocaust, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. The program aims at highlighting lessons and issues that need to be incorporated into the education of professionals in involved in theory, research, practice and policies in the relevant fields.

The event will take place on Tues. Nov. 9, from 5 pm – 8 pm, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. The program is free and open to the general public. Registered participants are invited to visit the galleries of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust free of charge before the program begins. Get your free ticket for the galleries upon arrival at the Museum.

To read more and to register, follow this link.

           Irit Felsen

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Summaries of Lecture Series for Children of Holocaust Survivors: “Our Parents, Ourselves, Our Changing Lives”

The document available at this link holds a collection of summaries of a lecture series entitled “Our Parents, Ourselves, Our Changing Lives” for children of Holocaust survivors.

The ten meetings took place monthly in Boro Park, Brooklyn, between May 2016 and June 2017, and were made possible by Bikur Cholim Chesed Organization, with support from the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care of the Jewish Federations of North America.

The group was intended for individuals who wished to discuss issues they experience in caring for their aging Holocaust survivor parents, and also for those who no longer have parents who are alive but wished to gather with other children of survivors for a sense of community and to discuss the unique ways that their experiences as children of survivors color other aspects of their own lives. Each meeting included a lecture focused on a topic and a discussion that followed. The summaries of the lectures are presented in the order that they took place. The topics discussed included many aspects in the lives of the second generation, with an emphasis on enhancing current relationships and self-understanding, and improving the capacity for joyful and healthy aging.

As a child of survivors and the facilitator of these meetings, it has been a moving and meaningful connection for me. These lectures gave me a precious opportunity to share the knowledge we have accumulated about the impact of trauma on the survivors and their children, while pointing to the ways in which we can continue to transform ourselves and amplify our resilient and life-affirming legacy.

             Irit Felsen

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Presentation for the Speakers Bureau at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC on Oct. 19

For several years now I have had the pleasure and the honor of meeting annually with the people who volunteer their time and energy to speak to students in schools, as well as to other audiences in the museum and in the community, as part of the programs organized by the speakers’ bureau of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.


This year’s meeting will take place on Thursday October 19 in the morning and I will speak after lunch, at 12:30pm. The topic of my presentation this year will be “Memory in Art and Holocaust Legacy”.

            Irit Felsen


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Video of My Lecture “Child and Adolescent Holocaust Survivors” Available on Youtube

On July 21, I gave a lecture to teachers in New York, as part of a program offered by the Museum of Jewish Heritage about the impact of the Holocaust and its aftermath on survivors and their descendants, and what we learn from survivors about the impact of trauma suffered in childhood and adolescence on the functioning of the adult throughout life and about resilience and the protective factors that encourage resilient coping in children and adolescents.

A video of my presentation at the event is now available online. The video can be found by following this link, or from  my Youtube channel.

Irit Felsen

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Las Vegas Tragedy: The Hidden Trauma

The mass shooting that left over fifty people dead and hundreds of others injured will leave many more direct and indirect victims. Brian Calypool survived the attack in Las Vegas. He appears to have not been physically injured. Yet the video clip of him speaking to CNN’s Chris Cuomo is a heart wrenching expression of the terrible impact of such mass trauma on the survivors, the horrible impact of such a trauma not only on those physically wounded, but on many many others who experienced this horror.The victims exposed to the horrific scene of the attack may experience traumatic stress and be haunted by images, sensations and intrusive memories of the attack for a long time. They may be haunted by survivor guilt, those terrible self-searching doubts that Brian is overwhelmed with, “did I do enough to help”, and by a shattering of our most fundamental sense of our right to be alive. “Why did I survive when others did not?”, he asks, “why do I get to go home to my daughter today when they don’t ?” Survivor guilt is the added injury inflicted upon those who witnessed others being horrifically killed or injured next to them, an added injustice that leaves innocent victims and survivors feeling morally at fault for being alive, feeling guilty, guilty not for something they have done, but simply for surviving, when so many others did not.

Brian has a lot to be proud of. Fighting off the tears he does remember trying to put himself in front of the young women who were trying to find cover from the shooter. Not too many people would be able to have done that. Yet he is in excruciating pain. This pain might last for a long time for some of the survivors, and some will carry it with them forever. For some, it will lead to a heightened sense of the preciousness of life and of their relationships with loved ones, even if this heightened appreciation will come at the cost of an anxious and very real sense of the precariousness of every good moment. For some, this experience will disrupt and interrupt the fabric of life and of relationships, despite themselves. Hugging a loved one will bring to mind unbidden flashes of memories, sights, sounds and smells of the scene of horrors they survived, but others did not.

Some people who have been miles away from the catastrophe, even those watching the images on TV from the safety of their homes, might be terribly impacted. Let us be as kind as we can be to the next person we meet tomorrow. Their pain might be invisible, yet shattering. Our kindness to the stranger across from us is the only antidote we have, but it is a powerful one.

           Irit Felsen

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Holocaust Memories in Art: Slides of My Lecture from September 16, 2017

Last Sunday, I gave a lecture about the expression of Memory in Art related to the Holocaust at the opening of the exhibit “Generations” at the JCC in Whippany, NJ.

The artists who present their work in this exhibit represent individuals at different distances from the epicenter of the cataclysmic catastrophic events of the Holocaust. Milton Ohring and Hanna Keselman are child survivors of the Holocaust, Lev-Gal Wertman is “second generation”, the child of a survivor, and Joanie Schwarz grew up in a family that lost many relatives in the concentration camps. Memory comes back and is experienced in images and sensations and therefore lends itself particularly well as a subject for artistic expression. The works exhibited by this artistically diverse group reflect a wide range of themes associated with the individual artists’ experiences relating to the Holocaust. In my presentation, I discussed these themes. You can find a pdf copy of slides that go along with my lecture at this link .

Shana Tova and best wished for the start of a New Year!

             Irit Felsen

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