Hundreds of rabbis from across the country participated in a “Medicine and Halachah (Jewish Law) ” conference at the Convention Center in Haifa, organized by Maccabi Health Services. Maccabi is committed to provide uncompromising professional and efficient medical service, while adapting its advanced services and making them accessible to the religious public. This is accomplished through an open line of communication, sensitivity to the special needs, and constant consultation with the community’s rabbinic leaders. Maccabi proves, in practice, that ‘medicine according to halachah’ is possible and desirable. This conference created a positive connection between the religious communities and Maccabi.
Rabbi Chananya Chollak, International Chairman and Founder of Ezer Mizion, was invited to speak on mental health. Rav Chollak went into detail regarding methods of early detection when dealing with mental illness. He stressed the importance of opening one’s eyes and the need to pick up signals from around — to see if there is a relative or friend in one’s environs who may be suffering from a mental issue. “It is our responsibility as a society to know how to approach these cases, to know how to deal with tragedies,” he said. He spoke about the guidance he received from Jewish religious leaders of the past and present in many halachic aspects of mental health.
Ezer Mizion offers a variety of psychological support services and rehabilitative programs for people suffering from psychological disorders, emotional issues and mental illnesses. These services include:
A Big Brother/Sister Program that pairs individuals suffering from mental illnesses with trained mentors who provide companionship, offer assistance with basic daily function, and teach the skills necessary for independent living.
Rehabilitative employment centers that provide mentally handicapped people with basic vocational training and employment, and ease their integration into free market employment.
A psychological referral team that recommends appropriate psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors to people grappling with emotional disturbances, mental health issues or difficult relationships.
A network of psychiatrists and psychologists throughout Israel who provide their services at a discount to patients referred by Ezer Mizion.
A 24-hour crisis hotline for non-medical emergencies, including mental health crises such as suicide attempts or severe manic episodes.
Many issues in the sphere of health were discussed from the halachic standpoint, in light of the unique challenges encountered by people involved in public health. The historic event went on for many hours, beginning in the morning and continuing until the late afternoon.
Chief Rabbi Rav David Lau shlita stressed the great benefit of a conference in which Rabbis and people in the medical field sit side by side. “It is very important for the doctors to understand the involvement of Rabbis in public health, while taking advantage of their extensive knowledge, for example, in the laws of saving a life on Shabbat.
The Chief Rabbi addressed the halachic side of the health budget and health package Rav Lau praised the heads of Maccabi for the important initiative and expressed the hope that this important conference would contribute to the public welfare.