Birkhat Ha’Gomel: Community Response to Acute Stress Disorder
The aim of this paper is to propose the introduction of a communal ritual as a posttrauma early intervention technique. There are specific community-oriented methods for dealing with trauma survivors; we believe that, in particular, the Jewish ritual of Birkhat Ha’Gomel (the blessing recited when saved from danger) is helpful for reducing chronic effects of trauma. Similar posttrauma traditions are seen in other ethnic groups, such as the Navajo; those will be briefly discussed as well. It is important to note that therapies that are currently employed as the result of years of research have many similarities to those rituals that have existed for thousands of years. When providing early intervention for a trauma survivor, it is important to be aware of culturally appropriate treatments as well as the most commonly used professional methods. A combination of these techniques may be effective to alleviate acute stress disorder and prevent chronic posttraumatic stress in the general public.