Young bereaved Israelis share stories on Memorial Day

Hundreds of young bereaved Israelis gathered on Wednesday for an evening of remembrance at the Jerusalem headquarters of OneFamily, an organization the caters to those who have been hurt or lost loved ones in terror attacks.

The event gave platform to the youths’ personal stories, songs and poems about their loss; mothers spoke about losing their sons, brothers and sisters spoke about siblings, and children who were mere toddlers at the time of their parent’s death also shared their memories.

The event was held on the eve of Remembrance Day, which has traditionally been dedicated to fallen IDF soldiers, but in recent years has been also extended to commemorate the thousands of victims of terror. Official memorial ceremonies were held across the country, in city squares, schools and community centers.

For many of the bereaved families, these ceremonies are extremely daunting and difficult to attend; this is especially true for teenagers who have lost loved ones. The intimate memorial event aimed to answer the needs of these youngsters by encouraging them to share their experiences with their peers.

“After my brother was killed, I couldn’t bear to attend the usual Remembrance Day ceremonies. They all seemed so disconnected from my reality,” said Ofer Shambik, whose brother David was brutally murdered in 2003 while taking a walk with his girlfriend in the Jerusalem forest. “After five years of staying at home, the OneFamily gathering offered me a forum to share with people that can really understand my pain and what I am going through.”

One caring family

Marc Belzberg, chairman and founder of OneFamily told attendees: “We will continue to come together on Remembrance Day each year, one caring family that understands each others’ pain and is always there in times of need. May we merit to see a time when no more families have to feel this pain.”

Over the past 10 years, OneFamily has aided the rehabilitation of thousands of Israel’s 17,000 victims of terror, facilitating their reintegration into society. The group offers a blend of financial assistance, therapeutic programs, legal assistance and moral support to anyone who has been bereaved, injured or recognized as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Jerusalem-based organization, which is led by founders Chantal and Marc Belzberg, grew from their then-12-year-old daughter’s initiative to donate her batmitzvah gifts to benefit the victims of the 2001 Sbarro suicide bomb.

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