Dr Judith Guedalia

The Morning (Mourning) After the Days Before

Today is the day after The Sixth Annual Nefesh Israel Conference.  It was a major success.  We had close to 300 hundred people a day for three days.   The conference title was Building Bridges in Mental Health, and that it did.  Attendees and Presenters ranged in every ‘hue' of the religious rainbow, they came from Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Holland, the United States, and of course Israel; from as far north as Zefat and as south as below Be'er Sheva.  We came together with one purpose, to network, connect and bridge the gap with other Torah-True mental health professionals who ‘are' and/or work with the religious community.  The high academic and culturally diverse level of the presentations began with the Hitnatkoot or Akira (Separation or Uprooting) from Gush Katif/Gaza.  HaRav Yigal Kaminetzky the former Rav of Gush Katif (or Rav of the former Gush Katif) formally opened the Conference.  The other topics, which are too many and too varied to list here, made significant inroads to our understanding and knowledge.   (Please go to the website www.nefeshisrael.com for the full conference schedule, abstract book, pictures and soon digital voice recordings of the sessions which (B'EH and B'N) will be available for downloading.)


As Co-Chair with the super-able Leah Abramovitz, MSW, our committee: Rav Dr. Ephraim Becker, Dr. Yocheved Burlovitz, Mr. David Emanuel, Mrs. Rivka Friedman, Rav Eliezer Glatt, Mrs. Rachel Gottesdiner, Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Levitz, Rav Dr. Baruch Shulem, Mrs. Sarah Beth Solomont and conference coordinator Ms. Elana Walhaus.  The Conference was supported by the generosity of Mrs. Estanne Abraham Fower, Mrs. Ellie Bette Nussbaum and the Tobin Family Foundation.

As I looked out at the crowd in the auditorium of the Beit Vegan Guest House my thoughts were elsewhere.

I cannot but remember his open smiling face and especially his earnest kindness.  Chezi Goldberg H'YD (May Hashem avenge his blood), was at the first Nefesh Israel Conference six years ago, held at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.  I remember how he came early and offered to help.  I did not know him then, and thought that this gesture was so wonderful and out of the ordinary.  In the years that followed, I was to learn that for Chezi this was the norm. 

Immediately following the first conference, Chezi came on board as a member of the Second Nefesh Israel Conference planning committee.  He attended the myriad planning meetings and was an active participant in reading the abstracts we received by people interested in participating.

We had a day workshop in Beit Shemesh, Chezi was there.  We had workshops in other parts of the country, Chezi was there too.  He presented at the Second (2002) and Fourth Nefesh Conference in February 2004, too.  By then his Name preceded him.  Not only did he have a regular column in The Jewish Press (Chezi's Corner), but he was known as a get-it-done learning specialist/therapist and an interlocutor between kids/adolescents, their parents and their yeshivot/schools.   He was also ‘The Man' to turn to for kids at risk, especially but not only those in the ‘Anglo-Saxon' community --the term used here to describe English speaking immigrants to Israel.

The Fourth Israel Conference took place at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem, it was also the Seventh Nefesh International Conference, and the first Nefesh International Conference to be held in Eretz HaKodesh, or for that matter, outside of the east coast of the United States, thanks to the able stewardship of Nefesh International's then president, Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Glick of Canada.

Chezi shared the podium with two other presenters Harav Yehuda Lev Porush an Israeli Haredi ‘Kids-at-Risk' person and Mr. Baruch Moskovsky, a social worker, who is the director of the Jerusalem Municipality's section responsible for treating adolescents ‘on-the-streets'.  As you know Chezi Goldberg, the wonderful husband and father of seven, was murdered by a terrorist bus bomber, on his way to his new office, not two weeks after that conference.  Rav Porush recently told me that he still has the business card Chezi gave him in his wallet.  (Chezi's article about that conference appeared posthumously in Chezi's Corner and is available on-line www.jewishpress.com).  

The warm glow we share the morning after the Nefesh Israel's Conference will be forever tinged by the mourning after Chezi Goldberg (H'YD), may his name be forever blessed.

Originally published in the Jewish Press on February 8, 2006.

Tags: Chezi Goldberg | Jewish Press | Nefesh Israel Conference