Colin Lewis, President of OneFamily Canada, Visits Israel

It has been two years since a OneFamily representative first came to speak to the Toronto Jewish community about the plight of Israel’s terror victims. Colin Lewis was genuinely moved by what he heard, and by the work OneFamily does on behalf of victims.

1098 killed. 7590 wounded. And OneFamily has given $12.3 million to 2350 of these families.

Colin was particularly drawn to our Adopt-A-Family program, by which we match the families of terror victims in Israel with communities abroad that will provide them with long-term emotional and financial support.

“I was so impressed by the project; I knew that I needed to get involved. I am a member of Temple Sinai and together as a congregation we decided to adopt a family right away.”

 

From that first adoption, Colin became increasingly involved in OneFamily’s mission. Today he serves as the President of OneFamily Canada. He oversees, motivates, and encourages OneFamily’s Canadian supporters, coming up with new and creative ways to raise funds for victims. He also maintains contact with all of the terror victims who have visited Canada on OneFamily missions, to show them that they will never be forgotten.

Recently Colin came to Israel with his wife Bonnie to spend 12 days with victims of terror and OneFamily staff to see first-hand what OneFamily does. They participated in a OneFamily evening for widows and widowers, visited our Youth Division’s Project Maayan at the Telem Springs outside Jerusalem, joined a three-day retreat for wounded victims, and visited terror victims they’d hosted during OneFamily missions to Canada.

Colin and Bonnie Lewis at the home of Orli Grego in Holon, Israel

Colin and Bonnie also sat in on a OneFamily support group for Russian widows at the home of OneFamily’s Northern Coordinator Batia Weinberg. It was the support group’s first meeting, and one of the women had lost her husband only days before in the Hadera market bombing.

Colin and Bonnie and OneFamily’s Russian Women’s Support Group at the home of Batia Weinberg

Batia’s husband, psychologist Jackie Weinberg, took Colin on a tour of Hadera, showing him all of the places where terrorists struck, including the Hadera market.

“You see this hole here,” Jackie said to Colin as the two stood at a bus stop on Hadera’s Main Street. “That’s a bullet hole from a drive-by shooting. And see that pizza parlor down the street? A car bomb exploded in front of it, killing 2 and wounded over 60 people.”

After Hadera, they attended an evening for widows in Ra’anana, which featured a piano player and singer.

“These twenty widows get together once a month,” said Colin. “Some of them are very young. It’s so sad to see widows that young. But on this evening they stayed until almost one in the morning singing and dancing along with the piano player. Bonnie and I were very pleased to be there.”

One of the highlights of Colin’s trip was a three-day workshop for wounded victims in the northern town of Zichron Yaacov.

“On The first day no one really knew each other, so it was a little awkward,” commented Colin. “But by the second day everyone was very open and honest with each other. They all spoke about their injuries, their life shattering experiences. By the third day when the retreat came to a close, they were all so close that no one wanted to say goodbye.

“There were so many tears and emotions. You could really see how these complete strangers had grown to love one another and lean on each other for support.”

Terror Victims at 3-Day Retreat for Wounded in Zikaron Yaakov

The goal of the three-day workshop was to give the couples a time of therapy and relaxation – to help them work through their feelings about their (or their spouse’s) injury and to give them the tools necessary to rebuild their lives.

One man at the workshop had lost his leg fighting in the 1967 war, and more recently lost his arm in a terrorist attack.

“Here’s this guy who’s experienced some awful things in his life, but he was still so positive. It was incredible how he helped the other men and women at the workshop,” remarked Colin.

Colin has since returned to Canada to continue his work for OneFamily on behalf of Israel’s terror victims.

“After experiencing the several days with OneFamily volunteers and victims of terror in Israel, my respect and admiration for them all has increased immensely. It was a very humbling experience to meet such incredibly committed people like Dina Kit, OneFamily’s Office Manager and bereaved mother; Batia Weinberg and her family; Nava Formansky, Coordinator for the Sharon region; and Ofir, Coordinator for Judea and Samaria.

They do such great work, all day, everyday. And the victims were so appreciative that a group of fellow Jews from 5,000 miles away would be interested enough to offer financial and emotional support, and come to see them. It was a life-altering experience.”

 

By Laura Lere

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