Dr. Paul Epstein
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Trauma at the Border and Beyond
July 2018

Let me start by saying, this is not my usual type of newsletter. Something in the news has touched me deeply, and I feel compelled to share my personal and professional response to it. 

Ode to an Immigrant - Evelyn Epstein, my Mother
My mother was an immigrant from Russia to the US during the Russian Revolution of 1917. She, and her family fled Russia to escape the pogroms and escalating violence towards Jews.

Her story was, and is, a familiar one. Thousands, indeed millions of people from all over the world, at different points in our history, have left their homelands under the threat of violence, oppression and all types of danger, seeking a safer and better life for their children.

It's happening again, right now, from the countries of Central America.

Immigration is the essential (his)tory of our country. The United States of America is a nation of immigrants, built by immigrants, comprised by people from all walks of life, nations, religions, races, colors, sexual orientation, and creeds.

Since our founding, all immigrants are theoretically welcomed by the statue of liberty, with the heartfelt creed of our nation:

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses... yearning to breathe free."

After a harrowing journey to find safe passage out of Russia, my mother and her family found their way onto a ship, where they lived in a steerage basement compartment for the 6 month journey across the sea.Their goal was simple, but not easy: a better and safer life in a far away land called, "America."

My mom was 5 years old, travelling with her mother and a few other family members. Her father died during their journey, before ever making it to the ship.

She landed in NY city, on Ellis Island, where she was processed and entered her new life in America. Her name is on a memorial wall at Ellis Island, to this day.

My Mother's name  (Evelyn Zvenitsky-Epstein) on the memorial wall at Ellis Island.

No-one in her family spoke English, only their native tongue, Yiddish. Fortunately, because they had a family member who had come to America before them, they had a place to stay. Everyone squeezed into a small, 3 room apartment on the lower east side of Manhattan.

My Mom would tell stories of how she was bullied, and made fun of, because of her accent and not being able to speak English. She had to leave high school early, never graduating, so she could go to work and care for her ailing mother. From her humble beginnings as a frightened child in an alien place, she eventually worked her way up to become the first female executive director of a synagogue in NY City and its surrounding communities.
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"Note to self: every time you were convinced you couldn't go on, you did."
~ Unknown
I am writing to you today, as her son, because she was able to survive the persecution in Russia, the loss of her homeland, the death of her father, the perilous journey to America, and despite the challenges and obstacles she faced in here, she thrived as an immigrant, and made a better life for herself, and eventually for her own children. I am eternally grateful for her courage and tenacity.

Me, in 2002, at the memorial wall on Ellis Island, where my mother's name is engraved

Watching the news today, and seeing what is happening at our southern border, with the separation of children from their families, is a truly heartbreaking and avoidable tragedy. This must be stopped as soon as possible. Children should not be separated from their families, and those that have been should be reunited with their families as quickly as possible. 

This "policy" is traumatizing thousands of children. As a physician who deals with the mental and physical health ramifications of trauma, I am both concerned and outraged at the damage that is being done to these children. The trauma they are experiencing now will have a negative impact and effect on their health and well-being for the rest of their lives.

As you are no doubt aware, there are demonstrations happening all across the country, and the world, against the 'zero tolerance' immigration policy that is creating this tragedy.

My heart and compassion tell me that WE are ALL the children and families on the border. They are our children and part of our human family.

We must treat people compassionately, and humanely, and do all that we can to stop the policy of separating children from their caretakers at our border. We must stop the abuse and trauma that our governmental policy is causing to these children and those who love them.

Below, I will share some of an email I received on this topic from KPJR Films. KPJR is a company that is seeking to bring attention to childhood trauma and the importance of recognizing, preventing and healing it. I encourage you to check out their website and the work they are doing to bring more awareness to childhood trauma. 

Excerpt from an email from KPJR Films:

Prevent Trauma. Build Resilience.
A Message from KPJR Films on Trauma at the Border

We at KPJR FILMS are deeply disturbed by the zero tolerance policy used by the current administration at the U.S./Mexico border. Separating children from parents causes deep trauma, toxic stress and unnecessary suffering. We all need to take immediate action to become informed on this matter, use our voices and build advocacy in each of our communities and states.

We've dedicated this message to providing links to key news pieces on the subject, providing trauma-informed resources, and launching a new awareness-raising campaign using hashtag: #PreventTraumaBuildResilience

Join the conversation online by using this hashtag to share trauma-informed news and resources throughout your social network.


Thrive Global on  Separating Families and Creating Trauma

ACEs Connection Resources On Reunited Families As Quickly As Possible.

Additional resources and tools can be found on our website here.
I hope this provides you with information and resources to support your participation in efforts to serve those children and families affected by this dreadful policy, and ease their suffering in whatever way speaks to you.

With sadness and wishes for compassionate action in my heart,

Paul Epstein, ND
Mindful Healing: Mind-Body Integrative Medicine
(203) 226-3923
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Serenity is not freedom from the storm,
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About Dr. Paul Epstein
Paul Epstein, ND is a graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), specializing in Mindful Healing and Mind-Body Integrative Medicine.

He has more than 30 years experience in private practice successfully treating patients with powerful, life changing therapies.


Dr. Epstein is currently accepting new patients into his practice. He also works with healing professionals as a Professional Mentor to teach practitioners how to work in a truly integrative fashion in their own practice.

He is a pioneer and leading voice in Mind-Body Integrative Medicine lecturing internationally to both general and professional audiences.  

Dr. Epstein is an extraordinary teacher who presents compelling topics that inform, educate, motivate and inspire. His work is helping create a much needed paradigm shift in the practice of medicine and the healing arts.

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Westport, CT 06880