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August 05, 1983 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-08-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

20 Friday, August 5, 1983

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Israeli Mentally III Get Boost From 'Beautiful Israeli' Winner

By RIFKA ROSENWIEN

NEW YORK (JTA) —
Chanita Rodney is the
"Beautiful Israeli" of 5743
(1982/1983). She was given
that title by "At," an Israeli
magazine for women, and
by the Helena Robinstein
cosmetics company.
But, according to Mrs.
Rodney, these companies
sponsor the "Beautiful Is-
raeli" contest in order to
emphasize that "beauty in
Israel" is not "only out-
ward."

In fact, Mrs. Rodney, 54
years old and the mother of
four children, was given the
prize because she "knew
how to turn a human
tragedy that afflicted her
into creative activity for the
common good," as the per-
son who submitted her
name to the contest wrote.
Mrs. Rodney is the
president and founder of
Enosh, the Association
for Mental Health in Is-
rael, the first such organ-
ization. Her impetus 'for

creating the organization
was the sudden mental
breakdown of her oldest
daughter, 12 years old.
For seven years, the fam-
ily remained in ignorance of
the nature of her daughter's
illness, until, almost by ac-
cident, Mrs. Rodney learned
that her daughter was suf-
fering from schizophrenia,
she told the Jewish Tele-
graphic Agency in an inter-
view in New York.
She began reading about
the disease and researching

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the state of mental health
care in Israel. She realized
that what was needed was a
"better awareness" about
mental illness, she said.
"We have to take down
the curtain of shame and
stigma" associated with
mental illness, Mrs. Rodney
said. She learned this
through personal experi-
ence.
When she told friends
about her daughter's ill-
ness, she said, "they all
said ishh.' We all nearly
crumbled to pieces be-
cause it was so embar-
rassing," she said of her
family.
"We were supposed to live
a lie. It was like under-
ground," she said. She
added that she "did not
think Israel was a place to
live like that." She escaped
the Holocaust, in which her
parents died, by being sent
to England from her native
Berlin at the "outbreak of
World War II.
Mrs. Rodney became an
ardent Zionist and together
with her husband, a British
soldier whom she met in
England, moved to Israel
shortly after the establish-
ment of the state.
So, while watching Egyp-
tian President Anwar
Sadat's historic arrival in
Israel in November, 1977,
she decided that if someone
could have the courage to do
"such a great deed," she
could have "the guts" to
issue a letter to the public
announcing the founding
meeting of an organization
for mental health in Israel.
The ,meeting was held
in November 1978 and the
name Enosh, which
means "humane," ac-
cording to Mrs. Rodney,
was chosen for the asso-
ciation. She used her ex-
tensive background in
volunteer work, which
included eight years as
head of the Women's In-
ternational Zionist
Organization's (WIZO)
southern Israel region, to
organize and publicize
the new group.
Enosh now has 18
branches across the coun-
try, 11 social clubs and sev-
eral halfway houses, accord-
ing to Mrs. Rodney. All the
facilities are staffed by vol-
unteers, including profes-
sionals in the field of mental
health who donate their
services.
The organization has
2,000 members and is
funded by "small donations"
and some help from Social
Security. Its national head-
quarters are in a bomb shel-
ter at Gan Hanevi'im in Tel
Aviv. Mrs. Rodney said she
was interested in starting

JDC Housing
for Elderly

NEW YORK — Nearly
half of the 51 apartments for
the aged constructed by the
American Jewish Joint Dis-
tribution Committee (JDC)
in Gilo, Israel have been fil-
led, the JDC reported.
The housing project in
Gilo has been operating
since November, 1982.

an American Friends of
Enosh, to help in fund rais-
ing.
The association's serv-
ices, all of which are free,
"are a bridge into normal
life," Mrs. Rodney said.
There are no facilities for
those just out of the hospital
or undergoing treatment.
The social clubs provide
activities for those people
and help them "learn daily
life again. (The clubs) are
open in the afternoon, be-
cause we help them find
work in the morning," she
added. Many of them work
in the branches themselves.
The organization re-
cently opened its first
sheltered workshop; and
Mrs. Rodney would like
to establish a "drop-in
center" soon. The center
would allow people "with
problems who are too
embarrassed to go to a
mental health clinic" to
come in and find " a lis-
tening ear and an under-
standing heart," Mrs.
Rodney explained.
The branches can cur-
rently refer people to volun-
teer professionals, but do
not provide treatment.
There is "no lack of men-
tal health clinics" in Israel,
she explained, but there is a
stigma attached to going to
one. The clinics concentrate
on medical treatments,
while the Enosh centers are

unique in focusing on social
activities and the rigors of
adjusting to daily life, she
said.
Mrs. Rodney, whose own
daughter collapsed shortly
after her tour of army duty,
said that her organization
services a lot of soldiers and
works with the Ministry of
Defense in that area. -
Mrs. Rodney received
the__President's Award
for volunteer work in
1981.
Mrs. Rodney is currently
organizing an international
symposium on "The Future
of the Mentally Ill in
SoCiety," to be held in
Jerusalem in October.

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