Abigail Klein Leichman
December 25, 2023, Updated December 27, 2023

A story of resilience and healing is unfolding at Ra’anan Safe Space, a partnership between Israeli humanitarian aid organization SmartAID and Ra’anan BaShetach positive psychology and team-building center.

Located in the village of Beit Yitzhak 20 minutes north of Tel Aviv, Ra’anan Safe Space is a therapeutic nature compound that emerged after the October 7 Hamas massacres and kidnappings in southwest Israel’s Gaza border communities.

With the help of volunteers, the safe space offers psychological support and alternative/complementary medical treatments to survivors of the Supernova music festival; families mourning lost loved ones; first responders and frontline service providers; and people dealing directly with the injured, dead and ongoing harsh realities of trauma and war.

Within the first three days of operation, the center was already treating hundreds of people. 

Ra’anan Safe Space. Photo courtesy of SmartAID
Ra’anan Safe Space. Photo courtesy of SmartAID

“As we step into the second phase, our focus extends beyond immediate psychological crisis support and has now moved to long-term resilience training helping survivors and first responders deal with their trauma in a more holistic approach which addresses the mind, body and soul with psychological and psychiatric support,” said SmartAID Founding Director Shachar Zahavi.

“We are coordinating our efforts with the psychiatric wards of several hospitals and with the Ministry of Health. “ It’s not a patch; it’s long-term therapy.”

Israel’s word of the year for 2023 is resilience
Asif has partnered up with restaurateurs and chefs to make soldiers happy with tasty food. Photo by Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

As 2023 comes to a close, the Internet is abuzz with “words of the year” – the words that proved most popular or caught the zeitgeist of the last 12 months.

For Israel, we here at ISRAEL21c decided, the word of the year is most definitely resilience, considering that we’ve been facing internal political strife, followed by the horrific massacres, attacks and abductions in Israel’s southwest and the war with its impossibly heavy toll. 

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SmartAID normally is oriented toward bringing technological support to disaster areas across the world, in addition to distributing relief aid from Jewish and non-Jewish communities in the United States, Australia and Europe. One recent example is the communications systems that SmartAID installed in Maui in the wake of the August wildfire. 

During the Israel-Hamas war, it has been integrating technology into its response as well, such as setting up online learning centers for children evacuated from their homes in Israel’s south and north.

Survivors find healing at therapeutic nature center
Ra’anan Safe Space. Photo courtesy of SmartAID

However, Zahavi says that the war on the home front is a unique situation for his organization.

“Because of my past in psychosocial aid, and because it’s right in our backyard, we are also offering psychological support,” he says.

“In the safe space of nature, our unique healing environment reflects the essence of life, growth, and eternal movement, fostering recovery for those impacted by the echoes of war and trauma.”

Zahavi is seeking additional financial support to continue expanding and operating Ra’anan Safe Space and also welcomes solidarity mission visits from abroad. Contact him at szahavi@smartaid.org.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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