Progress and Recovery

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.”

To donate for the next camp please go to www.onefamilyuk.org/donate

For further information please contact andrew@onefamilyuk.org

Son of Hamas visit to London

November 2014  –The Green Prince, Son of Hamas – Mosab and Gonen visit London on behalf of One Family UK. The week included Monday 17th November– Business Breakfast at a City office with 20 invited guests who listened avidly to Mosab and Gonen tell their story, they generously answered questions from the audience over breakfast. This was followed by a private business lunch in London to thank One Family supporters. Tuesday 18th November Mosab and Gonen spoke at the cinema showing of the Green Prince at the Wellcome Collection, to an audience of nearly 200 guests, a Q&A session followed the film  . Wednesday 19th November –a  fundraising dinner was held at the private home of a One Family Patron where again they answered questions , this was facilitated by Joshua Rozenberg. They were also invited to speak at the Henry Jackson society at the Houses of Parliament that afternoon and spoke to an audience of MPs. Thursday November 20th –  A final fundraising evening at another private donors home. It was an amazing week and we were honoured to host both men in London.

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Zidan Seif Z”L

Zidan Seif was an Israeli traffic police officer who gave his life defending Jewish worshippers in a synagogue.

Zidan heroically ran into the line of fire to save others. He is survived by his wife and four month old daughter.

By arrangement with One Family UK, all donations will go directly to his family, and will be greatly appreciated, however large or small. Let’s show Zidan’s family and the Druze community that we stand with them during this painful time.

To donate, please click here.

Event: A Mother Speaks

We would love you to join us on 24th August 2014 in Herzliya, where One Family UK will be hosting an event, ‘A Mother Speaks’.

We will be joined by a very special guest speaker, Racheli Fraenkel, mother of Naftali Fraenkel z’l who was one of the 3 boys kidnapped and killed by Hamas in June. Racheli will discuss her firsthand experiences of the role One Family has played during Operation Protective Edge. We will also hear from One Family volunteers on their efforts to help the bereaved and injured from Operation Protective Edge as well as pack school supplies for children in the South.

Please note, there will not be an appeal.

Date: 24th August 2014

Time: 1.30pm – 4.00pm

Address: Hashunit St. 4, 4655504, Herzliya, Israel

For more information or to reserve your place, please contact Andrew@onefamilyuk.org by 20th August.

Operation Protective Edge

Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, over 3,112 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel, 67 people have been killed and more than 450 people have been seriously wounded.

Taking care of Israel’s victims of terror has never been so important.

Ziv Itzachki and Achiya Klein are both victims of terror who sustained terrible injuries in Israel’s ongoing war against terror and have since been part of One Family. Years later, in Operation Protective Edge, both soldiers have volunteered their time to join One Family in visiting soldiers in hospitals, bringing them gifts and making sure they do not feel alone.

One Family have taken over 400 families out of the South and placed them up North where they can feel at ease. To read more about these retreats, click here. Additionally, One Family have provided ‘kids packs’ and entertainers for all the young children stuck in shelters.

Southerners seek escape from life under rockets at Galilee resort

Sent north for R&R away from near-constant fire, residents of the south talk about a routine of periodic nuisances punctuated by terror and tragedy.

Ortal Dadya has had rockets land next to her twice in two years.

The first time was in 2006, when Dadya, a mother of two from Sderot, watched a Kassam rocket impact next to her car. A year later, another rocket hit while she was walking outside. Her shoulders, left leg and back were injured, said Dadya, who still lives in Sderot with her family.

“Since the rocket barrage hasn’t stopped over last month, I haven’t left the safe room in my house,” she said. “We even eat there. It’s been very hard.”

(Bomb shelters are on every corner and street in Sderot, where rockets have been falling steadily for years)

Dadya sat with her 5-year-old daughter in the lobby of the Bali Hotel in Tiberias near the Sea of Galilee, gluing tiny sequins on a hand-shaped piece of cardboard called a hamsa. They were in the northern city for a three-day retreat organized by OneFamily Together, a nonprofit organization that helps rehabilitate and reintegrate Israel’s victims of terror.

The retreat brought hundreds of terror victims up north over the past two weeks, and aims at helping the families that have been re-traumatized by the endless rocket attacks from Gaza.

“My daughter has also started being scared of the situation,” she said. “It was never like this before. You can’t sleep. The other night, there was noise all night long, and the whole building was shaking. The danger seems closer. We hear all the explosions taking place in Gaza.”

She can’t remember a time when she went out on the street without first checking the location of the shelters in case of a rocket attack.

“It’s been too many years now,” said Dadya.

The best thing about the retreat up north was being able to shower and sleep for a full night without worrying about sirens.

“I’ve missed that,” she said.

A low-sounding alarm sounded in the hotel lobby, and Dadya jumped out of the chair.

It wasn’t a siren, but like most of the participants at the retreat, Dadya reacts to anything that reminds her of life in Sderot. She suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, said a staff member, a condition many of the participants suffer from.

Psychological trauma is the reality that thousands of terror victims have to face, along with the physical injuries inflicted by suicide bombers and rocket attacks. OneFamily – founded in 2001 by 12-year-old Michal Belzberg after a terror attack took place at the Sbarro pizza shop in downtown Jerusalem – places the psychological issue on top of its agenda.

The organization has helped 3,500 families, about 12,000 people, a number that has grown dramatically over the last month.

“Whenever someone gets injured or killed in a terror attack, we immediately contact their family and offer emotional, legal and financial support,” said Rebecca Fuhrman, OneFamily’s marketing director. Emotional support, she stressed, is crucial.

At the retreat, located at a hotel overlooking the Sea of Galilee, kids were playing in the pool or licking ice popsicles distributed by the hotel staff. But the nightmarish experiences they’ve had down south are never far from mind.

Life in the line of fire is a constant interruption, said the residents. It’s impossible to cook a meal, finish reading a book or complete a conversation on the phone. Safe rooms turn into prisons, where entire families sleep, eat, study and work.

The rocket barrage has become a routine but terrifying part of the local population’s daily lives, said a staff member, a constant barrage that’s more frightening than ever before.

“Our two-year-old, Noa, knows exactly what to do when she hears the siren: she immediately runs into the safe room,” said Avital Afgin, an elementary school teacher from Ashkelon who has four children.

Afgin said that her faith in God plays a central role in times like this. She was injured in 2008 with her daughter Tair, then aged two, when a rocket landed on a mall in Ashkelon. They were there for a fun day out, said Afgin.

“A rocket landed on the mall, with no siren sounding,” she said. “We happened to be in the middle of the chaos. Luckily, Tair doesn’t remember anything. But we both got seriously injured and were in very critical condition.”

They stayed at Tel Hashomer for three months. Half of Afgin’s face had to be reconstructed, and her jaw was rebuilt. Her eye is still injured and Tair had a cast for two years after the attack.

“The body naturally ejects the smaller pieces of shrapnel,” said Afgin, “but the bigger ones remain. I have pieces [of shrapnel] everywhere in my body. I feel some of them.”

OneFamily, she said, “was amazing. They never left us.”

During the retreat, the terror victims were offered a variety of therapies, including reflexology, massage and acupuncture. Group and individual therapies with a psychologist were also held daily.

In a room next to the lobby, about 15 participants sat in a circle and vented about their struggles together with Yonatan Amit, a psychologist.

“What bothers you the most?” asked Amit.

“The sirens. I jump every time I hear a loud noise,” said one woman.

“The bureaucracy” involved in getting government help, replied a couple, who described it as slow and complicated. It’s difficult to get recognized as a terror victim if the injury did not come directly from the attack itself. Their son was injured in the chaotic circumstances of a rocket siren sounding, and they often have trouble receiving the proper reimbursements for his care.

OneFamily can help with the bureaucratic issues, said Fuhrman.

“We have social capital,” she said. “We are able to connect the victims with the right people. We are in touch with hospitals, banks and insurance companies. When it comes to terror attacks, we are the missing piece.”

(Jacqueline Ivgi and her grandson, Rom, on a One-Family sponsored vacation in Tiberias)

Outside at the swimming pool, surrounded by the sounds of kids playing, Jacqueline Ivgi cried, thinking about her son David, who was killed in 2012 by a rocket during Operation Pillar of Defense. He died after months of surgeries, but never regained his speech, only opening his eyes to communicate with his family.

“I knew that he could hear us, and feel our love,” she said. “We were with him nonstop, for the year and eight months in various hospitals.”

Her phone rang. It was Pinni Rabinovich, southern region coordinator of OneFamily, asking her how was she doing. The organization has been a steady presence in their lives, said Ivgi, visiting them in the hospital, bringing gifts for her grandchildren, organizing their birthday parties.

Since Operation Protective Edge began, said Ivgi, she doesn’t leave her house. When she hear the sirens, she sits in her stairwell.

“I wasn’t so scared before, but now that it happened to my son, I don’t want to leave the house,” she said. “I cry every time I hear about other Israelis dying – even if I don’t know who they are.”

She sat by the pool, smoking a cigarette, while her daughter-in-law played with her children, Ivgi’s two grandchildren, in the pool.

David’s son, Rom, entered first grade while David was still unconscious in the hospital, said Ivgi.

“He would visit his father and tell him “Dad, do you know that I can read now,’” said Ivgi, weeping. “And do you know what he said to me in the swimming pool a few minutes ago? Rom told me, “I know who loves me the most in the world – Dad.”

Moving families from the South

IMG_0405[1]On Sunday night, the war with Hamas spilled over into the streets of Sderot as terrorists infiltrated the community through underground tunnels. For Sderot residents whom have lived under fire since 2003, it was the worst night they had ever experienced.

Their lives changed 11 years ago when the first rocket was fired into Sderot. They heard a loud noise – residents went out to look to see what it was. A rocket… no one understood what this would mean for them and their families. As years progressed, the rockets became more advanced, as did technology to protect residents.

At the beginning, there was no siren warning of incoming rockets and only in 2011 after 8 years of living unprotected did the Iron Dome get introduced – most families did not have safe rooms and there was nothing protecting men, women, children, and property from rocket fire. Families were injured, loved ones were killed, and everyone lived in constant fear for their lives.

I asked families what it was like before the rockets. They used to go into Gaza regularly to go shopping, to go out to eat, to get their car fixed… they were neighbors in the truest sense. And that all changed when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip.

For Miriam, a grandmother of four grandchildren, with an injured daughter and a home that was destroyed twice by rocket fire – she explained that it is starting to be so long since it all started that she finds it hard to remember what life was like before.

For David, a retired IDF officer, who served in Gaza for most of his career, the last two weeks have been the most terrifying weeks of his life.

For Yael, a mother of four children, who in her rush to the bomb shelter, she fell down the stairs as a rocket tore through their home, watching her 15 year old daughter grow up without knowing what “normal” is like is excruciating.

For Chana, only 20 years old has been growing up with a shell of a mother, her mother was a nursery school teacher and watched one of the children in her care get murdered next to her when she couldn’t grab all the children fast enough. And then two months later, a rocket landed in her front yard – spiraling her into severe PTSD.

For Stella, a young mother whose child ran for shelter under a garbage dumpster and was injured as a rocket landed a meter away.

For Shitrit, who can describe watching a rocket land next to her and her family, and racing back and forth between her parents and sister as ambulances arrived thinking that her sister was killed.

For Yakov and Chaya, 19 year old daughter lives with such severe PTSD that she is still completing high school one class at a time.

As I walked to breakfast on the last day of the OneFamily Therapeutic Retreat, I ran into David. He looked at me with a wry smile and said, “it’s a new day right?”… of course it is a new day I responded optimistically, to which he said, “it is a new day it dates but not a new day in experiences… we still have this lot that we have to deal with, tomorrow will not change that.”

The night before the retreat, no one slept in Sderot as terrorists infiltrated the community. Black-op infantry jumped from airplanes into their neighborhoods, and news rolled in that terrorists had dug a maze of terror tunnels in order to attack neighborhoods. Doors and windows were locked for fear of the war on their streets and families hid in shelters as the Tzeva Adom Siren continued to ring relentlessly about incoming rockets.

Emotions were high as 400 victims of terror came to the hotel in Tiberias. Between the terror of the night before, the harrowing journey to get out of Sderot under rocket fire, and the culmination of two weeks of hiding in shelters – everyone was exhausted and relieved to sit in silence.

No sirens. No fear. Silence.

For three days, the received therapeutic support, reflexology, massage therapy, acupuncture, group therapy, private therapy, yoga, art therapy. And slowly smiles returned, laughter was heard, shoulders relaxed, people were able to cry, to share emotion. It was three days of blessing.

We need to ask ourselves – what are they going home to?

They are returning to a battle field. To homes that they now know have terror tunnels built underneath them, to bomb shelters where they must hide in fear, to the booming noise of the war happening just a few kilometers away.

But they have had the opportunity to begin a healing process, to gain the tools to be resilient, and to return with renewed strength to cope.

And they know that we are going to be there. Just like we have been there since the rockets started, since their families were injured… and we will continue to be there until they heal.

1.4 Million Israelis living in fear of their lives

Operation Protective Edge

1.4 MILLION PEOPLE – men, women, and children under direct attack.
Cowering in shelters – praying for their lives.
Rockets and mortars pound Southern Israel – sirens ring relentlessly warning residents to run!
300 FAMILIES – maimed, injured, bereaved, with their lives destroyed in previous attacks.
300 FAMILIES – traumatized and terrified that they will be injured again.
300 FAMILIES – begging for help.
They have already experienced this nightmare – they relive it every day.
Help us get 1000 men, women, and children out of the South.
To rest, to sleep, to stabilize, to rebuild.

 

Offering support to the families of Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel Z”L

 

On-line Messages of Support

The Families of the three boys Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel who were kidnapped and brutally murdered by terrorists have asked One Family to garner messages of support from Jewry worldwide. Please take a moment to write your personal message which will be personally presented to each of the families. Thank you

Thank you.

One Family Bereaved Mothers Group To London

One Family, together with the community of Kinloss are thrilled to be bringing over a group of bereaved mothers to London on Sunday, 17th November to Thursday, 21st November for a much needed break. Each member has lost either a son / daughter or a husband as a result of a terrorist atrocity in Israel.

The aim of the trip is to bring some joy, to pamper and look after a group who thought they would never smile again. The support of the community in London will give each member the courage to continue their journey knowing there are people who care.

If you would like to help during their visit, please email andrew@onefamilyuk.org or call 020 8458 1700