Children at One Family Camp Share Stories of Progress and Recovery
One Family camp gives bereaved children a chance to come together for a week of fun times and exciting activities. It also lets them spend that time processing their loss, sharing their stories, and learning new coping strategies.
To set the tone, this year’s theme was “progress” – exploring how far the children have come in their recovery.
“For many of the children, progress is a very difficult idea. They feel stuck most of the time,” said Ofir Elgrabli, head of the Youth Division. “So we created programs to help them see that they have moved forward and to think about what has helped them in that process.”
That reflection culminated in the Gala Event at the end of camp, when all of the different divisions come together and some of the children stand up and tell their stories. “We are all different ages and come from different backgrounds,” said May, 15, the event’s co-MC, whose father was killed in the Second Lebanon War. “But tonight, all our stories merge into one big story that contains all of our personal stories.”
Ayelet lost her father in the Second Intifada, when she was only 7 months old. “I do not remember my father and for many years I did not allow myself to feel the pain. Because, why would it hurt? Why should I miss someone I do not know? And every time a feeling came, I immediately blocked it. I did not give it space.
“During my time here in One Family, mainly thanks to my friends – some of whom are just like me – I learned to let myself feel. I learned to give my pain a place. I learned that I too was allowed to long for my father even if I don’t quite understand why. I’m allowed to care.”
Shira’s father was killed in a road shooting. “Terrorists ambushed us and fired more than 200 bullets at our vehicle. My father was murdered on the spot. The rest of the family remained unharmed,” she said.
“I will not lie to you, I am surprised that I am standing here talking to you. In my whole life, I never imagined such a situation,” she said. “It’s hard for me to share and translate words that are in my heart. But as I’ve grown, I have come to understand how important it is to express myself, even if it’s difficult. And in my case it is very difficult.”
During the final event, all four Shaer sisters took the stage together to speak about the experience of losing their brother Gilad, one of the three teens who were kidnapped and killed in 2014.
“Over the years I realized that I wanted to really deal with bereavement, to progress in my own way and not just let life pass me by,” one of the sisters said. “In this organization, I learned to speak, to say what’s good, what hurts and what I need – because this place truly makes things possible.
“Everything I say or feel is met with understanding and inclusion,” she continued. “I can just be me in my own way and that’s all anyone wants.”
Ron lost her brother four years ago in Operation Protective Edge. She came to her first camp a short time later, and this year she reflected on the progress she made in those four years.
“I look at Ron then and Ron today, I see two completely different people,” she said. “I arrived shy and closed up. I did not know what bereavement was or how One Family fit into my life.
“Today I’m a more grown up version of Ron, more open, better able to speak from the heart and express an opinion,” she continued. “Most importantly, bereavement is part of me, but not the only part, and I know how to integrate it into life.”
Moriah spoke about the process she went through since her older brother Eliav was murdered two years ago. “When my brother was killed, I thought that if I dealt with bereavement and mourning, I would fall and shatter. I was really scared. I did not want to look weak, so I repressed it and just carried on with my life.”
Things started to change, she said, when she received a phone call from a coordinator from One Family inviting her to join the Youth Division. “I was excited to join One Family. At the same time, I was also afraid,” she said. “I realized that if I went and felt that I belonged here, then it must be that I’m a bereaved sister. I understood I was choosing not to deny the reality anymore.
Still, she said, she was apprehensive about attending her first event, not ready to dive into deep discussions about bereavement. “Gradually, I discovered that here we are simply together, living life, and learning to live with our bereavement. I met others like me, who are dealing with the same thing.
“From the time that I came here, I started to move forward,” she added. “I felt that I may have lost a brother but I gained many brothers and sisters.
“My group has become an inseparable part of me and of my life. For me, this is where it I started to move, to live with the truth without repressing it, to learn how to live with it intensely, and how to transform the pain into growth.
“If in the beginning I thought I had to choose between living and bereavement, today I understand that it all comes together, that slowly we learn to live with the bereavement, and even live well.”
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Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29, a mother of a baby only 16 months old, and Ziv Hajbi, 35, were brutally murdered in a shooting attack at the Barkan Industrial Park Sunday morning. The two were found tied up and mortally wounded in the office where they worked. Police believe they were shot at close range after being tied up.
Efforts to revive them were unsuccessful. Kim leaves behind her husband and baby. Ziv leaves behind his wife and three children under the age of 7. May their memories be a blessing.
A third victim, a 58-year-old woman, was seriously injured with a gunshot wound in the stomach. She had heard noise coming from the office and went to check what was happening. She was shot as she entered the room. Please pray for the full recovery of Sara bat Chava.
Medics who entered the room discovered the woman hiding under one of the desks but fully conscious. They treated her wound and evacuated her to a hospital. She arrived in serious but stable condition.
Both of the victims worked at the Alon Group recycling factory in the industrial park. Kim was a receptionist for the deputy CEO and Ziv was an accountant. The area had long been considered an oasis of coexistence between Jews and Arabs. More than 8,000 people work in the area, half of them Jews and half Palestinians. It was the first terrorist attack ever to take place in the area, and serves as a major blow to the feeling of safety workers in the area enjoyed before the murders.
The terrorist is believed to be a 23-year old Palestinian from the village of Shweika near Tulkarem who worked at a factory in the park. He succeeded in sneaking an automatic weapon – a Carlo-style sub machine gun – through security, possibly because he held a work permit. He managed to escape after committing the attack. Israeli security has launched a manhunt to find him.
As the terrorist ran out, he fired at other workers, one of whom was carrying a gun and fired back. Neither managed to hit his target.
According to witnesses, the terrorist also worked at the Alon Group and may have been personally acquainted with his victims. He was an electrician at the plant but had not appeared at work during the weeks before the attack.
President Reuven Rivlin condemned the attack. “I am shocked and saddened by this morning’s terrible terrorist attack at the Barkan industrial area. Our hearts are with the families of those who were killed, and our prayers are with those who are injured,” he said.
“This was not only an attack on innocent people going about their daily lives, it was also an attack on the possibility of Israelis and Palestinians co-existing peacefully. “
OneFamily has reached out to the Yehezkel and Hajbi families. We are at their side through the difficult mourning period and will continue to be there through the stages of grieving that follow. We will stay at their side as long as they need us so that they never feel alone.
Thousands gathered to mourn Ari Fuld
From late Sunday night into early Monday morning in Kfar Etzion, a religious kibbutz in the West Bank.
Ari Fuld, 45, left his home for a routine shopping trip and became a national legend for the way he shot a terrorist after he himself was mortally wounded near the Rami Levy supermarket in the Gush Etzion junction.
The father of four, Fuld was the grandson of a Holocaust survivor and had miraculously dodged a bullet while serving as an IDF soldier in Lebanon.
“If there is one word to describe my brother, it was a hero,” his brother Moshe told the mourners who surrounded the small chapel on the edge of the Kfar Etzion cemetery just after midnight on Monday.
“Who else could manage upon sustaining a fatal injury, to draw his pistol, jump a fence and shoot his attacker to make sure that his attacker would not hurt anyone else; only my brother, only my brother,” Moshe said.
Courage was not just something that came to him in his death, said Moshe, adding that Ari. “was a hero in every aspect of his life.”
Moshe was one of many family members who described a man of strong convictions who stood his ground against all odds. A scholar, with a sense of fun, Ari loved his family, his country and his religion.
Born in New York, Ari immigrated to Israel in 1994. The dual US-Israeli citizen lived in Efrat with his wife Miriam, and was the father of three. He served as a sergeant in an elite paratroopers unit in the IDF reserves, and also served on the Efrat emergency squad.
A well-known pro-Israel advocate his Facebook page stated: “Living the dream! I have a love for the Nation of Israel, Land of Israel and Torah of Israel.”
“Ari never did things half way, whether it was his family, his love for his country, his love for Efrat, his all encompassing religious observance, his karate, his commitment to the security team.
“He was a scholar like no other. His head was always in the Talmud. He went through those pages, like us normal folk read a novel. The thirst for that next page, he could not put it down for anything.
“He was the most grounded person I know,” Moshe said, adding that he was able to stay focused and never neglect other facets of his life. “He had the weight of the world because he put it there and yet he managed to be everything for everyone,” Moshe said.
Ari’s wife Miriam spoke of how her husband had kept the shrapnel that had lodged in his bullet proof vest while he served in Lebanon. He also kept small notebooks in which he jotted down his thoughts during his IDF service.
His wife Miriam, read some of those words, in which he spoke of the importance of courage and his prayer that G-d would let the IDF persevere over their enemies.
“I pray only that I won’t die. I hope that the fear will subside,” Miriam read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
made a surprise visit to Gush Etzion to visit the Fuld family prior to the burial.
“We are alive because of heroes like Ari. We will always remember him,” Netanyahu said adding that the embraced the family in the name of the nation of Israel.
Earlier under the night stars, teenagers gathered in the Gush Etzion parking lot to bid farewell to Fuld, a well-known social media personality and Israel advocate.
They carried Israeli flags, played guitar, sang mournful songs and placed candles on the pavement in the shape of a Star of David.
Well-known in Jewish communities around the globe, Fuld was assistant director of Standing Together, an organization that supports IDF soldiers. He was an outspoken defender of Israel in the media and online, regularly engaging with Israel’s critics through his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
To make a donation to assist victims of terror please go to www.onefamilyuk.org/donate
Stabbing leaves two children without their father
OneFamily is deeply shocked and devastated by the murder of Yotam Ovadia in a cold-blooded stabbing attack on Thursday, July 26 in Adam that also wounded two other people.
Yotam, 31, was the father of two small children ages 2 and 10 months, and 7 months. May his memory be a blessing.
The murder robs the family of their loving father and husband, and leaves a widow and two more orphans too young to remember life before their family was shattered by terror.
The terrorist, a 17-year old Palestinian from a nearby town in the West Bank, infiltrated the town of Adam and began stabbing people he encountered, starting with a 58-year-old man, who was moderately wounded, and then Yotam. A third man heard Yotam’s screams and ran to help, sustaining a stab wound before shooting the terrorist.
The murder took place on the night of Tu B’Av, which is similar to Valentine’s Day in Israel. Yotam had brought flowers for his wife Tal and the couple put their children to sleep. He then went to his parents’ home to collect items he had purchased for a romantic dinner.
He never returned.
OneFamily has reached out to the Ovadia family. We are at their side through the difficult mourning period and will continue to be there through the stages of grieving that follow. We will stay at their side as long as they need us so that they never feel alone.
At his funeral, Tal spoke about Yotam as a devoted husband and father. “I do not know what will happen to me now regarding the children. I do not know how to continue to be strong for the children,” she said.
“We were everything to him, the house was his kingdom. Yotam was a humble and modest working man. He loved me and the children in a way I never saw. Everything he did was only for us. He always made sure it was good. He always put himself last,” she said.
His father also spoke about the fate of Yotam’s children, who will grow up not knowing the father who loved them so much. “The heart breaks at the sound of your little son calling, ‘Daddy, Daddy.’ The little boy cannot go on without you,” he said.
Please help ensure OneFamily is able to help the Ovadia family and other terror victims who need us.
Please donate here to OneFamily today!
Bereaved fathers visit London for a respite week
On Tuesday, 12th June. nineteen bereaved fathers, all affected by a terrorist atrocity in Israel, including one father whose son was one of the three boys kidnapped in 2014 , came together for a very special rehabilitative week in London .
Hosted by families in the Hendon area, they have visited the London Motor Museum as well as being hosted in fabulous riverside home at Marlow for the day in the June sunshine. Last night they had a great evening with a whiskey tasting at the home of a generous supporter.
Today , Thursday they visit RAF Hendon , golf and shopping and then onto the Lion King this evening.
Sunday Farewell BBQ
Sunday evening June 17th the group bid farewell to their hosts as the community at Hendon Adath Yisroel Synagogue held a fabulous BBQ for the guests, their hosts and the wider congregation.
Quotes from the hosts:
- A big big thank you and yeshecoach to David for everything! And to you the lovely host families.
- The Hendon Adath community embraced this group and we and they thank you so very much.
- Thank you so much David for everything you have done to make this such an amazing week!
- It was a real pleasure and honour for us to organise this event- the benefits of which for everyone involved far exceeded our wildest expectations
- Thanks to One Family David and Linda for organising the trip. The group was very cohesive and despite their constant agony, were able to laugh and befriend the members of Hendon Adass. We opened our houses to them but they opened their hearts to us and we now have new lifetime friends.
Earlier in the day the group visited Camden market to get a different flavour of London and then took a trip on the canal to Little Venice:
Monday- the final farewell
This morning before flying home to their families in Israel the group are taking a flying visit to the British Museum – not a minute to waste!
Sadly they fly home this afternoon and they have left the community missing them already.
Helping each other
Staying with host families makes the experience even greater as they forge friends for life with their hosts . Often, these victims of terror do not know that there are people outside of Israel that care for their wellbeing and this is of great comfort to them.
Each member of the group came to London as strong individuals who have been exposed to terror, yet have chosen to stay positive and choose life despite the bereavement they suffered. This trip enabled the group to get to know each other, as many didn’t know each other well and to be strengthened by the power of being together with people who understand the difficult feelings they have had to cope with following the bereavement of their sibling. The trip literally changes their lives!
How you can help
If you would like to support a future group please contact email@example.com
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One Family were privileged to bring over to London for Israel Remembrance Day and Israel Independence Day six young adults, all of whom served recently in the IDF and who unfortunately have become victims of terror.
During their visit they attended various communal events both remembering the fallen and then celebrating 70 years Of Israeli Statehood. They were also invited to a number of schools & societies to tell their stories and to join in with the various ceremonies taking place. A special thank you to the following schools, societies and organisations for their hospitality:
UJS event at JW3
Redbridge Community Centre
Haberdashers Askes Boys School
Michael Sobell Sinai School
Matilda Marks Kennedy School
Independent Jewish Day School
Hasmonean Boys School
Hasmonean Girls School
The London Adani Community
Yom Hazikaron Ceremony at Finchley United Synagogue
To view the full gallery of pictures from the Israel 70 Party please CLICK HERE
We received the following messages from some of the schools:
School A – I just wanted to drop you an email to thank you so much for arranging soldiers m to come into school yesterday. I heard that the children really enjoyed listening to them.
School B – Just wanted to say a huge thank you to the soldiers for a wonderful event where they spoke superbly. Please pass them my thanks.
School C – Thank you so much for being our guest in Yom Hazikaron Assembly today. The soldiers were inspirational and their speeches left a high emotional impact on every member of the audience . Your participation in the assembly ensured it’s success and we are ever so grateful to you. Please pass on our gratitude and warmest wishes to both.
The week ended with a huge Israel 70 party where our guests ate, drank and danced the night away. The perfect ending to a very busy week.
Message from Ambassador Mark Regev – Moving ceremony at
@JW3London to mark #YomHazikaron, #Israel’s remembrance day for fallen soldiers & victims of terrorism. Many thanks @JewishAgencyUK for organising. After their work was done they visited the sights of London as well as having a few leisure activities in London. We want to thank this special group for sharing their experiences with so many people here in the UK.
If you are interested in sponsoring groups to London please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Support for victims of terror
One Family is the family of Israel’s victims of terror attacks – support for those who have been bereaved, those who have been maimed, those challenging difficulties daily and those suffering from post-trauma as a result of terrorist attacks since 2001.
Summer event in Israel
This summer an evening event was hosted by patrons of the charity at their beautiful home in Hertzliya to pay tribute to all the support given to victims of terror by the friends and supporters of One Family UK and to hear about the latest activities in the organisation.
Approximately eighty people gathered to listen to MK Michael Oren who shared his thoughts about also being a victim of terror (His sister in law was killed in a bus bombing in 1991) and how organisations such as One Family are so important. He also spoke about his experiences as former Israeli ambassador to the United States and the challenges he faced. He then signed copies of his recent book Ally : My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, to give to the guests.
Bereaved sister Michal Hotter sang a song in English that she composed about her late brother who was killed in the 2nd Lebanon war and played beautiful jazz music throughout the evening. Her mother, Elaine, who is originally from the UK spoke on behalf of bereaved parents, how much One Family helps and supports the families and the guests from London had the opportunity to meet some victims of terror who kindly joined them for the event.
Thank you for hosting this special event.
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It’s the summertime retreat
The summer retreat has arrived and for children who have lost a mother, father, brother or sister in a terrorist attack, fun isn’t a major part of their lives. But all of that changes when they arrive at One Family summer camp.
For six days, bereaved children allow themselves to be children again. That’s the magic that happens when they are with other children who have experienced the same type of loss.
During the year One Family’s Youth Division helps bereaved children by forging relationships between them and their volunteer counselors. The counselors make regular visits to their homes, particularly on their birthdays and the anniversary of the death of their family members. They speak on the phone weekly.
The relationship is deepened throughout the year at One Family events. The pinnacle of which is Summer Camp, where the counselors spend a week with the campers, bonding and providing emotional support.
That’s why the 300 campers and 60 counselors look forward to the start of camp all summer. When they are under the weather as the camp is due to begin, one camper said, they’ll do whatever they need to do to feel better so they can be at camp.
At One Family Camp, children who have lost siblings or parents to terror do not need to stifle their feelings, as they often do in their everyday lives. They are free to be themselves with others who are struggling with the same challenges.
Throughout the year, they feel different from others. At the One Family camp, they feel normal. As one of our campers said, “As soon as I stepped off the bus to start camp, I felt like myself again for the first time since the tragedy.”
That feeling is the gateway to healing. And it’s happening right now.
We wish you were there to see it in person. The pictures below capture some of the fun, excitement, and bonding we see each day at camp.
Thank you to all of you for making this possible.
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Read here how the Big Brother and Big Sister program helps young victims of terror.
One Family aims to rehabilitate victims by ensuring that they have emotional and physical support to enable them to live fully functional lives, such as being able to care for the families, return to work, study, integrate fully back into society and have group support to enable this. Central to healing is One Family’s therapeutic structure that incorporates support groups, therapy workshops, healing retreats and psychological counselling.
The priority of the organisation is to care for youth whose main activity includes running three camps a year, weekend retreats, individual and group counselling, a mentor program which provides emotional support and guidance to children deemed to be emotionally and physically needy, this is the Big Brother and Sister Program.
Itai and his Big Brother cook together at One Family
Itai and his Big Brother cook together at One Family
For 10-year old Cheli, life was at its best when her older brother Benny was around. He would lavish her with attention and take her to fun places whenever he had the chance. The siblings had the kind of bond that comes from growing up with a single-parent home. They learned to look out for one another.
So when news came that Benny was killed by a terrorist while on guard duty in the army, Cheli was devastated. In a split second, one of the most important people in her life was gone forever. The void that opened was enormous. It felt like her childhood had been ripped away from her.
Twelve-year old Itai also suffered a shattering loss. In 2014, his father was killed in a road shooting that also left Itai and his mother wounded. Since then, he and his two brothers and two sisters have had to grow up not only without their beloved father but also without a stable male role model in their lives.
Cheli and Itai (as well as his two brothers) are part of One Family’s Big Brother/Sister program, which pairs children who need direct and ongoing attention with a caring older role model who will maintain regular, ongoing contact.
Most of the 30 pairs currently in the program meet up weekly, sometimes even twice a week for outings and chats. Most importantly, they help fill the void that’s left with the loss of a parent and sibling, providing unconditional love, a safe space to express feelings, and a chance to feel like regular children doing the thing they love.
Strong Emotional Guidance and Deep Bonds
Cheli with her Big Sister
The activities of the big and little brothers and sisters are as varied as the children themselves but the purpose is always the same – to let the children know someone cares and is there for them for friendship, emotional support, and help overcoming the difficulties of growing up in their painful circumstances.
For Itai and his Big Brother Ze’ev, that means spending time processing the trauma Itai experienced. By building a close bond, they have created a safe place for Itai to talk about his father and what Itai can learn from him.
For Cheli, having a Big Sister is a chance to enjoy simple childhood experiences and a break from the difficult and painful atmosphere at home.
Others, like Rachel, whose mother was killed in a suicide bombing, get to feel some of the maternal bond they are missing and benefit from the advice and guidance from someone who understands her needs.
Tal and her Big Sister like to chat while cooking together, and even put together a booklet of their favourite recipes. The strong bond between them provides Tal with a place where feels safe to talk about her loss.
Or Hadash lost his father in 2010. His Big Brother serves as a mature male role model who provides stability and security after many years without a father figure in his life.
A number of other children like to go hiking or swimming in springs with their Big Brothers or Sisters, activities that would not be possible on their own. And since many of them come from shattered families where the parents themselves are coping with loss or injury, the Big Brother program provides the only opportunity.
Someone Devoted Just to Them
Tal and her Big Sister doing what they love to do – cook
All of the children in One Family’s Youth Division have counselors assigned to them and speak on the phone each week and see each other monthly. But the Big Brother program is more intensive, with each Big Brother or Big Sister devoted to only one child whom they see each week as well as special occasions such as birthdays and the anniversary of their loved one’s death.
Because the Big Brothers and Sisters play a vital role in the lives of the children, they are uniquely positioned to monitor the children’s growth and progress, and are the first to notice any negative patterns that may develop. This helps the children deal with problems as early as possible, before they impact their lives.
The relationships also give the Big Brothers and Sisters an opportunity to guide and mentor the children and lead them towards a brighter future. They help children who have suffered move through the fragile stages of childhood. They fill in spaces that would otherwise remain open wounds.
The results are easily apparent to anyone who sees the children in the beginning of the process and at the end. Children who are shy start to open up to the world, and many of them go on to serve in elite units in the army and then successful professional careers.
Most importantly, they help them heal on the inside and outside. And that makes all the difference.