Jewish Journal

A Call for Help

by Marc Ballon

Posted on Apr. 10, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Israeli victims of terror might not feel so alone and desperate thanks to an upcoming Internet service. Beginning in June, terror victims will be able to go online and chat one-on-one and in real-time with rabbis, counselors and therapists about their personal and financial problems. The new service, sponsored by Chabad of Israel, will be available in Hebrew, English and Russian.

"Some people are too busy, too ashamed or too apathetic to seek out help in a traditional way,"said Rabbi Chaim Cunin, director of AskMoses.com and public relations director for West Coast Chabad Lubavitch.

"They can go online anonymously and get the help they need without worrying about being judged," he said.

Chabad Israel and West Coast Chabad partnered to create the planned site, which is an outgrowth of their site, AskMoses.com. The local Chabad group will supply the technology powering the service, which is expected initially to operate up to eight hours a day.

Cunin said he and others concluded there was a need for the new service because of their experience with 4-year-old AskMoses.com, which allows users to ask rabbis questions about Judaism. In addition to discussing why God wants Jews to eat kosher, rabbis have received a growing number of online requests on how to survive a divorce, end an abusive relationship and mentally recover from a rape, among other personal problems.

Meanwhile, The Jewish Federation's Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership launched a hotline in late March that allows Southern Californians to check up on loved ones in Tel Aviv.

Callers unable to reach their elderly parents, for instance, can contact the hotline. Within 12 hours, a volunteer in the United States will return the call and take a report, which will be relayed to a social worker in Tel Aviv. As part of an investigation, the social worker might make a house call to make sure everything's OK.

The Jewish Federation and Jewish Family Service run the hotline, which can be reached at (323) 761-8287.

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