Building Bonds on the Slopes and in Life

Ski Trip

Young adults recovering from the loss of a parent or sibling need time to process their loss and begin to heal, but their lives are often too demanding to allow them the time and space they need.

So to help create a space for healing, OneFamily took 14 bereaved young adults on a week-long ski trip to Italy in February. The trip combined the fun and excitement of skiing in the Italian Alps with therapeutic activities and group bonding with others going through the same process.

Everyone in the group suffered unspeakable loss during the past two years. Some lost family in Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. One was bereaved as recently as two months ago, another just three months ago.

On the first day of the trip, each participant shared his or her story with the others. “They all knew why they were there,” said Michal Belzberg, who served as one of the OneFamily staffers for the trip, “but they didn’t know each other’s experience.” Once they all understood how much they had in common, she said, it was easier for them to feel comfortable around one another.

By the end of the week, new connections were made and friendships formed. “They now have each other to turn to, friends who understand their situation better than others in their lives,” Michal said.

The group spent their days on the slopes or taking part in a host of other activities such as ice skating or art workshops. In the evenings, they came together in a bonding circle to strengthen and support one another.

“They are still trying to figure out how to live with their bereavement,” Michal said. “Some of them were still thinking about things like what gifts they would buy their sibling who will have a birthday for the first time since being killed.”

On the last day, the theme of the evening discussion was, “What is your dream?” One of them said his dream was not to bring back his father, who was killed in a terrorist attack. Rather, it was that the bereavement process could be easier, not filled with so much pain for him and his mother.

After returning to Israel, one of the participants summed up his feelings about what he had experienced. “I just returned from one of the most meaningful trips I’ve been on recently, and possibly in my whole life,” he wrote. “It’s was an experience that allowed us to just be, to share our deepest thoughts and feelings, and to disconnect from our regular lives.”

The trip was planned by Keneski, an annual skiing experience that allows Jews from Israel and abroad build strong and meaningful connections. Special thanks to Shani Falik Roth and Ilan Roth for welcoming OneFamily to the Keneski experience.

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