Rebuilding Southern Israel

OneFamily organized a series of rehabilitation and relaxation for residents traumatized by rocket attacks. The events are designed to help residents address anxiety and post-trauma by utilizing Reflexology and Massage Therapy to mitigate symptoms. The events generally host 100 victims for therapeutic relief.

As every person walked in through the door, they all had the exact same solemn demeanor, and after an hour or so when they left, they all had the same joyful, glowing, and contagious smile, with no exceptions. As I watched them leaving, I realized why we were there.

OneFamily’s mission is to help rebuild lives that have been shattered by terror – but that is the end goal. What’s really important is each step along the way to rehabilitation. Making people feel comfortable and happy if only for a few hours, giving them a break from feeling alone, giving them a chance to talk freely about difficult experiences, these things are the foundation of OneFamily, and the reasons why the organization exists.

I began working at OneFamily my second week in Israel. Until then, my only real connection to the terror in Israel was through my Israeli father, who was in the IDF during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Understanding that terror is an integral part of Israeli culture, I felt an obligation to become familiar with it during my Gap Year.

Before working at OneFamily, I knew that they provided aid the thousands of victims of terror all over Israel. But, I never truly understood how each individual victims was being helped until last week, when I was given the opportunity to go down to Be’er Sheva after Operation Pillar of Defense for a therapuetic event.

When we arrived in the South, the OneFamily team of staff and volunteers met in small building with a few private rooms. All of 600+ victims currently residing in the South, for reflexology and massage-therapy, or a BioHug session, and also refreshments, of course. Bereaved and traumatized parents, siblings, and children came and were welcomed in with open arms.

Words cannot accurately describe how happy everybody was to be there.

The event functioned in true OneFamily style – hospitality being the #1 priority. As each guest arrived, they were greeted with a warm smile and a big hug from Dina and Pini, and were invited to sit down and talk for a while.

As they began schmoozing and waiting for their massage therapy, everyone was offered the opportunity to try a new product called the Bio Hug (www.biohug.com), a therapeutic massage vest designed to relax the user.

I watched as victims walked in, sat down before or after their therapy session and unburdening their experiences of the terrifying and traumatizing week of nonstop rockets that had recently ended. Clearly the massages weren’t the only restorative part of the occasion.

The most amazing thing about this event wasn’t that OneFamily was offering these people a therapeutic activity and a break from their everyday lives, it was the vast difference an hour or two made on each person who came. As every person walked in through the door, they all had the exact same solemn demeanor, and after an hour or so when they left, they all had the same joyful, glowing, and contagious smile, with no exceptions. As I watched them leaving our event, I realized why we were there.

OneFamily’s mission is to help rebuild lives that have been shattered by terror – but that is the end goal. What’s really important is each step along the way to rehabilitation. Making people feel comfortable and happy if only for a few hours, giving them a break from feeling alone, giving them a chance to talk freely about difficult experiences, these things are the foundation of OneFamily, and the reasons why the organization works.

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