OneFamily’s annual Conference on Women’s Empowerment brought together 300 bereaved and injured women from across Israel for a day of fascinating and inspiring speeches, free-flowing love, and a deep sense of common purpose.
The women enjoyed rousing lectures starting with R. Yemima Mizrachi who opened with a moving statement: “There is only one conference that I regret having so many women, and this is that conference. I would be so happy if I arrived in the morning and I would come here and the hall would be empty [because there were no victims of terror.]”
They heard from renowned television personality Sivan Rahav Meir she spoke about Tisha B’av, a day of mourning, and how it was different for women who are already in mourning every day. Quoting Rebbe Nachman of breslov “Throughout the year we seek a distraction and consolation but during this time [the three weeks before Tisha B’av] we are called upon to pay attention to sorrow.”
She noted the link between expressions of joy and sorrow. “Laughing and crying use the same muscles, and they both could change worlds,” she said.
They also listened to an inspiring panel on Faith and Bereavement led by OneFamily board member Lt. Col. Alona Salamon, with Israel Prize Winner Miriam Peretz, and actress, inspirational speaker and bereaved mother Osnat Shir-Vishinsky, and bereaved mother Devorah Gonen. The women spoke about life after bereavement, and how they chose to continue, rather than be brought down by tragedy.
Miriam Peretz said she continues to believe in the power of prayer, even though her prayers appeared to go unanswered. It is possible, she said, that her prayers helped save another mother from suffering. “No prayer is wasted but it goes where it’s needed most,” she said. “I prayed for my sons, but they were not saved. Maybe another mother prayed for her son and needed it more. Maybe it was her only son. I don’t know the divine will.”
For Devorah, carry on was about noticing that the world continued to turn and that it was up to her to move with it. The week after her son died, she explained, she prepared him a cup of tea, the way she did every week when he was alive. She sat under her window and noticed the sun was still shining despite her loss. “I decided that the sun in the window of my house would continue to shine. It has to shine, and not only must it shine, I am the one to decide on the intensity of its light,” she said. “And there, at this point, it was clear to me that when they said, ‘In their death they commanded us to live.’ that it was Danny commanding us to live.”
Another panel on Empowerment was led by Emily Amrusi and featured MK Aliza Lavi and Col. Ronit Lev. MK Lavi said she felt obligated to work to “perfect the world, make it more correct, more egalitarian. Just like Miriam Peretz said, when at the age of 120, she meets her boys in heaven, she want to be able to say she was worthy,” she said. “We all have an opportunity to do good in the world and today I am in a political position to do so, and that means to help others.”
Throughout the day, the women were revered and appreciated for choosing life and moving forward.