Nine hundred and fifty dinner guests turned up on October 1 at the Westin Hotel, one of Sydney, Australia’s most prestigious venues, in a broad show of support for Chabad of Sydney’s “Jewish House Crisis Center”, a unique and very successful project celebrating its 18th anniversary.
“The Jewish House is simply a place for people to turn to,” says founder and director Rabbi Pinchas Woolstone. “We provide a complete, all-encompassing measure of care for individuals, couples and families in any sort of emotional distress.” A full-time staff of seven mental-health professionals serves two branches of the Jewish House, one in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and one on the North Shore. A third center, in Perth, is scheduled to open later this year.
Though officially classified as a day therapy center, the Jewish House is much more than that to the hundreds of people—from all sectors of the Jewish community, and beyond—who have made use of its services in close to two decades of operation. The center deals with problems ranging from substance abuse to emotional stress, designing a treatment path tailored to the person’s specific needs and directing them to the proper channels once they have finished their treatment at the Jewish House. In recent years, the addition of a crisis accommodation unit with 14 private rooms means the care can be extended even further to those who need it.
Judging by the sheer number of people who avail themselves of the Jewish House’s services, the center fills an important need. “Not everyone experiencing difficulty in their lives can make that phone call and see a therapist on their own,” explains Rabbi Woolstone. “Many people need the sort of complete care that we provide.” And the genuine warmth that typically characterizes a Chabad center is a major boost in the healing process, he says.
In recognition of the Jewish House’s extraordinary contributions, hundreds of dinner guests representing a cross section of the Sydney community, both Jewish and non-Jewish, helped raise funds to cover the center’s enormous yearly budget at the annual fundraising dinner last month. The dinner honored the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. John Howard, for his enthusiastic support of the Jewish House over the last several years. “It is only because of individuals like Mr. Howard that the center has been able to successful make a difference in so many people’s lives,” said Rabbi Woolstone.