ARMY chaplain Rabbi Captain Dovid Gutnick has joined a team of Victorian chaplains who are in bushfire-affected areas offering moral support to locals stricken by calamities such as losing family members or friends, or pets and livestock, or facing tomorrow without their homes.
“It’s not about talking as much as listening and offering an empathetic ear,” the rabbi told The AJN from Mallacoota, where he arrived earlier this week after a journey through the fire zones that also took him to Orbost, Bairnsdale and Cann River.
Rabbi Gutnick of East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, who serves in the Australian Defence Force Reserves as the army’s Jewish chaplain, has attended town meetings and other gatherings, where residents try to figure out what their immediate and longer-term future will look like in Mallacoota, which was hard hit and from where residents were evacuated by the navy just after the new year.
He found people had the need to have someone to talk to about recent experiences, such as fighting fires right up to their property boundaries, helping others defend their properties from the fires and coping with loss of life all around them, he said. “Many people just want to get it off their chest.”