Project Mashiv Ha'Ruach

Helping the Helpers

We are sitting around a fire in the middle of the desert, a circle of social workers getting a much-needed respite from helping scores of people affected by October 7th. As we watch the dancing flames, we’re asked to write something we want to forget on a note to throw into the fire. One woman stood up and said, "The smell." Everyone nodded, knowing exactly what smell she was talking about. Another stood, adding, "And may the smell of fire remain just the smell of fire." 

Though each of us helps others in our daily lives, this time, we are here to care for ourselves.  
The group leaders, Eyal and Vered, share the story behind this moment and the Mashiv Haruach Project. After October 7th, Eyal, retired from the Navy, wanted to do something to help. One evening, while he and his wife were watching the Channel 13 news, he saw psychologists being interviewed at Israel’s Shura Military Base, a makeshift morgue for October 7th victims. They spoke of the rise of post-traumatic stress disorder among First Responders, especially the volunteers who assisted in the burial processes. That became the impetus for Project Mashiv Ha'Ruach

Because the tens of thousands of volunteers and professionals who joined the mission in the days following October 7th were not direct victims of the attacks, they aren’t eligible for state-sponsored support and treatment. They include rescue forces, treatment and identification personnel, health and welfare professionals, and more. They came to the field, were in direct contact with the victims, and indirectly experienced the horrors of October 7th — leading to severe secondary trauma with no resources to help them. Eyal and Vered set out to change that. 

Having worked at the Center for Identifying Casualites, Vered knows firsthand the agonizing sights, emotions, physical and sensory experiences that volunteers go through, and the difficulty they face in going on with their regular lives. Though a secular woman, Vered says, "Sometimes, the thing that helps us most in coping with trauma is prayer." She told us she found something sacred in the work at the Center. The simple truth of standing against all the evil in the world — and humanely caring without discrimination for the victims, casualties, and their families — gave comfort. 

Vered and Eyal, along with their team, established Project Mashiv Ha'Ruach, to provide guidance and support for this secondary circle of the affected – the volunteers and helpers. The workshop takes place in a remote location that allows us to detach from the world for a moment — free of all the news, responsibilities, and background noise. Here, we are allowed the time and space for internal reflection and processing our experiences. During the session, we are equipped with tools to cope with trauma and develop emotional resilience and growth. After it’s over, the professional team continues to support the participants, to strengthen us both individually and as a group as we return to normal life. 

Project Mashiv Ha'Ruach is a critical mission — helping those who dropped everything and gave help to anyone who needed it. Your donations to our annual campaign are what make initiatives like this possible. Thank you so much — we couldn’t do it without you.


February 27, 2024


Ester Biro