By: Chloe Baker  | 

Help in Hard Times: How the Counseling Center is Responding to the Situation in Israel

The recent events in Israel have come as a shock to everyone, including YU’s undergraduate students, and are leaving many with intense feelings and emotions they have never felt before. It can be very hard to navigate through everyday routines, as we, the Jewish nation, are in a crisis.  Given the amount of emotional turmoil caused by Hamas’s terrorist attack and the ongoing war,  the Counseling Center has implemented several changes to provide the utmost support to our YU community. 

The Counseling Center is expanding its offerings in the realm of outreach as well as services they offer. They have partnered with different YU departments — including the Offices of Student Life, Residence Life, International Services and the Provost — to better reach students who may need help. Additionally, they have been offering drop-in hours during which students can come by for a check-in without an appointment.

On top of one-on-one therapy, the Counseling Center has been hosting daily group mindfulness sessions on Zoom with Outreach Coordinator Rabbi Avraham Kener. They have also held in-person support groups and are open to meeting with any group of students who want to talk together in a calm and quiet space. The Counseling Center has been reaching out to ensure that students know how to best take care of themselves during this time. Dr. Debra Alper, assistant director of the Counseling Center, created a sheet full of tips on how to manage anxiety, which has been distributed around the school and was advertised this past Wednesday at the university-wide solidarity event held on Wilf Campus.

In the coming weeks, the Counseling Center will continue to host mindfulness events and individual and group therapy sessions, and will be working with other departments and student groups such as Active Minds to continue to provide support in the best ways possible. Additionally, they hope to run workshops around topics such as resilience and unity in an effort to improve students' overall mental health. 

“Many students express the feelings of ‘survivors’ guilt’ and shame for not being in Israel, or for continuing with their education and daily activities,” Counseling Center Director and Dean of Mental Health and Wellness Yael Muskat told The Commentator. “We want to stress that in order to get through these trying times we need to take care of ourselves so we can be there for others and so that we can engage successfully in our endeavors.” 

To try to manage anxiety and stress, the Counseling Center recommends sticking to a daily routine, exercising, having a healthy diet, staying connected to family and friends and limiting the amount of media you consume. Furthermore, they recognize that many students have expressed a desire to contribute positively to the situation in Israel. The Counseling Center notes that it is important to look for causes that “feel personally meaningful, as these give us a semblance of control in a situation that otherwise makes us feel very helpless.” 

“We are heartbroken about the events in Israel, and shocked at the cruelty that was unleashed. We also know this can have devastating mental health effects on everyone in the community, and we want to do all we can to support our students, and our friends and family in Israel,” Dr. Muskat shared with The Commentator. “We are proud to be at Yeshiva University at this time, and proud of our students, who have displayed their deep commitment to Israel and to our community, and respond with kindness and love to one another and efforts to contribute.”

On behalf of the entire Yeshiva University community, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Counseling Center for all that they have done to be extremely supportive to both students and faculty as we figure out ways to manage dealing with this crisis. 


Photo Caption: Wilf Campus

Photo Credit: The Commentator