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Pride of Judea counsels Twin Tower victims

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Like so many others who have been asked to help in the wake of the World Trade Center destruction, Douglaston’s Pride of Judea has gone above and beyond to answer the call for assistance.

From its Northern Boulevard offices, Pride of Judea staff have fanned out across the borough and the city to offer counseling and support for members of the public, city workers and companies in need after the Sept. 11 destruction of the Twin Towers, Director Paula Held Sharf said.

Held Sharf said dealing with the effects of the World Trade Center has been a top priority for the Douglaston agency and will continue to be one “for as long as is needed.”

The Pride of Judea, which has been in Douglaston since 1972, offers a range of services from marriage counseling and parenting classes to crisis intervention and children’s services as well as mental health counseling. In 1997 Pride of Judea merged with the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Held Sharf said, making the Pride a division of that board.

The extent of the Pride’s efforts is most evident in its home base at 243-03 Northern Blvd., where a drop-in center has been established for anyone wishing to talk about their feelings since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Held Sharf said the center is staffed by Pride of Judea’s counselors and social workers, who will see people for up to three sessions free of charge.

“People who are really in crisis and who may need to become clients get priority,” said Held Sharf, who said more people are taking advantage of the drop-in center as time goes on.

Rochelle Lipkowitz, a nurse and counselor at the Pride of Judea, has discussed the World Trade Center tragedy with her own clients in Douglaston and has visited the city’s Family Center at Pier 94.

Lipkowitz said people should be afraid to talk about their feelings after Sept. 11.

“I think a lot of people are still at home, still in shock and feeling helpless,” Lipkowitz said.

Held Sharf said the emotional and psychological effects of the World Trade Center disaster have been wide ranging and people should be aware of changes in their own behavior as signs they may need to get counseling.

Some symptoms are a radical shift in a person’s emotional state, including extreme distress or anxiety or a feeling of numbness, or other behaviors which do not subside, such as a lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, nightmares or stomach aches.

One Pride social worker who treats patients who abuse drugs and alcohol said people with addictions should be careful not to relapse.

“People who have a lot of fears with their health — their condition could be exacerbated,” said social worker Etella Zak.

Pride of Judea staff members have also put in overtime to counsel families and volunteers at the city’s Family Center at Pier 94 in Manhattan as well as city workers serving in the rescue and recovery effort.

When the city Department of Sanitation called, Held Sharf said staff members went to them to provide counseling for the employees. Sanitation workers have been sorting through the grisly tangle of human remains and debris after they have been taken to the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.

Several companies formerly located in the Twin Towers have contacted the Pride of Judea, including Marsh & McLennan and Pitney Bowes, Held Sharf said. Pride of Judea staff went to the New Hyde Park offices of Marsh & McLennan to talk to Sept. 11 survivors in the weeks after the tragedy, Held Sharf said.

In addition to its drop-in center, Held Sharf said the Pride of Judea has also established counseling time every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for employees of Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 700 workers, or the victims’ families, free of charge.

For more information about the Pride of Judea’s services, call the agency at 423-6200.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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