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June 30, 2016 / 24 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘onefamily’

Victims Of Terror: When Mommy Can’t Come Home

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Twelve-and-a-half years ago, Chana Nachenberg was a young mother taking her two-year-old daughter, Sara, out for pizza with relatives. Then a suicide bomber blew himself up in the restaurant and tore apart their lives. Today, Chana is still unconscious.

The Bombing Lewis-051614-Wedding

August 9, 2001 was a sunny day. The Sbarro pizza restaurant, located at a busy intersection on the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road, was doing a brisk business at lunch time when a Palestinian suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt that weighed between five to ten kilograms and contained explosives, nails, nuts and bolts detonated his bomb. Fifteen civilians were killed, including seven children and a pregnant woman; one hundred and thirty people were wounded. Among the critically injured was Chana Nachenberg. Miraculously, her daughter wasn’t hurt.

“When a bank closes for a break, clerks go into high-gear,” says David Nachenberg, who was working as a clerk in a major bank in Israel at the time of the attack. “I was racing through my work when my brother-in-law called me. I thought that perhaps my father, who was ill at the time, had taken a turn for the worse. Then he told me that my wife and daughter had been in a bombing.” David’s bright blue eyes dim with the memory. “My boss sent me in a taxi to the hospital.”

Chana had been in the restaurant with her daughter, her uncle and his wife. Her uncle was injured when a burning piece of the air conditioner, loosened by the blast, hit his head. His wife, however, managed to have Chana immediately evacuated into the intensive care ambulance that had providentially been close by and arrived within thirty seconds of the explosion. Instinctively, her aunt retained Chana’s pocketbook, not realizing that this meant Chana was without any ID. Sara was evacuated with her mother. “Sara was in shock and besides that, she never talked to strangers, so we had no way of tracing them,” says David. After going from hospital to hospital, Chana’s parents, Paula and Yitzchak Finer, found their daughter in the Intensive Care Unit of Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

Chana had been critically injured when a nail from the bomb cut into one of her coronary arteries stopping blood flow to the brain. In addition, a metal nut had lodged itself in her lung. She was rushed to the hospital without a heartbeat, and there she was revived. At the hospital, Dr. Avraham Rivkind, head of the department of general surgery and trauma unit and revered for refusing to give up on the most hopeless patients, explained that brain damage occurs once the brain is deprived of oxygen for only two minutes. “Despite speedy care, Chana’s brain had probably been without oxygen for at least ten minutes,” says David. “Dr. Rivkind showed us her brain scan: the usual distinction between the grey and white matter was missing,” David continues, “He told us there was little hope – less than one percent chance that Chana would wake up.”

David has given the dry facts; now the raw emotion breaks through. “When something like this happens, you can never relive the good parts of your marriage,” he says. “And you don’t have a chance to make up for the bad.” A glance at family photos shows moments of happy family life that have become mere memories: a radiant dark-haired bride, proud parents, the excitement of a trip back home.

Lewis-051614-Older

Patching Lives Together

In the years since the attack, Chana’s parents, helped by OneFamily Fund, a volunteer-based non-profit organization that empowers wounded victims, orphans of both parents, orphans of one parent, widows, widowers and bereaved parents and siblings to rebuild their lives, have done everything possible to care for their daughter in the hope that she will one day wake up. A program of intensive sensory stimulation includes oiling and massaging her limbs to keep some level of suppleness and avoid rigidity setting into the joints; she is regularly turned; and her senses are stimulated with company and music. Yet, tragically, there has been no sign of Chana emerging from the coma and the family has had to move forward with the heart-breaking consequences.

Rhona Lewis

Oran Almog’s Journey of Resilience

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

October 4, 2003 was a beautiful, warm, and sunny Saturday. Following an idyllic family day trip to the beach, nine-year-old Oran Almog, his parents, his brother and sister, his grandparents, his aunt, and his cousin stopped at a favorite seaside restaurant for lunch together.  The restaurant was jointly owned by Jewish and Arab families, and was a favorite attraction along the seafront.

The family loved spending time at the seaside. Oran’s grandfather had been one of the founders of the Israeli Navy in the 1950s and his father had served there as well.  The sea was in the family’s blood, and they relished the time they spent together on the beach and in the water.

As the family sat at their table, a 29-year-old woman walked by looking at each of the customers, and then blew herself up in the middle of the restaurant, murdering 21 people, including 4 children, and injuring 60 others.

Tragically, Oran’s father Moshe, his grandparents Zev and Ruth, his brother Tomer, and his cousin Assaf were all murdered in the attack.

Oran’s mother Orly, sister Adi, and aunt Galit were each seriously injured.  And Oran suffered the worst injuries of all – losing his eyesight and suffering injuries to his head and upper body.

Oran spent more than a year in the hospital recovering, and  has spent many more years since in rehabilitation treatments.

“What I fear most is not death,” says Oran.  “I know what it is like to lose close relatives.  What I fear most is having others experience that pain.”

OneFamily has been at the side of Oran, his mother, and his family throughout their painful yet extraordinary journey of resilience. Their journey has been – and continues to be – long, debilitating, tragic, and excruciatingly painful. Yet not only has Oran achieved a remarkable level of post-terror rehabilitation, he is realizing the ambitions and dreams that he had before his life was shattered by terror. It is astonishing how he repeatedly overcomes his physical constraints to live a miracle. From 2004-2011 Oran participated in OneFamily’s Youth Division, which hosts 350 youth, at three annual camps and ongoing individual and group support programs and events. These have provided Oran and the other bereaved and maimed youth with a unique experience of release and healing, from which they continually emerge revitalized. Oran  has received consistent nurturing, mentoring, counseling, and emotional support from his OneFamily team – his case worker, his counselor, OneFamily Big Brother, and peers. He received a OneFamily Bar Mitzvah twinning in 2006.

Oran is now one of a family of 450 people in our Young Adults Division who have been maimed, bereaved, and traumatized in terror attacks.

In the time since the attack, Oran has become a spokesman for his remaining extended family. He talks about how his father, his grandfather, his grandmother, his brother, and his cousin were murdered, and of the difficulties he has had coming to grips with his fears and his new reality.

The family’s love of the sea runs strong in Oran.  He has become an accomplished sailor, and has been a candidate for Israel’s disabled sailing team in international competitions.  He addressed a packed crowd at the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah games in 2005, and drew a standing ovation for his words of inspiration and courage to the assembled athletes: “After what I have gone through, I know that even if they hurt you, they can’t defeat you.  And on this evening, I am here to tell you that if we remain united and continue to keep our “together”ness, no one can beat us.”

In November 2011, Oran joined the Israel Defense Forces as a soldier in the Intelligence Corps, despite his total blindness and his horrific experiences. He views it as the next logical step in the life he was raised to live.

Oran is a living, walking miracle.

OneFamily will be at his side for the rest of his life. We will continue to invest in Oran and to empower him – and all of our young terror victims – to overcome the effects of terror, to successfully complete their education, and to achieve their independence.

After all, that is what family do for each other. That is the Power of Together.

If you would like to send Oren a message or to make a donation to invest in his future please click here: http://www.onefamilytogether.org

OneFamily

On Remembrance Day, Young Bereaved Israelis Share Their Stories As OneFamily Together

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel – Hundreds of young bereaved Israelis came together for an evening of remembrance and memories at the Jerusalem home of the OneFamily  organization. The event was unlike most memorial ceremonies, offering an intimate and homey environment to share personal stories, songs, and poems about lost loved ones. 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 personal memories.

At 8p.m. on Wednesday evening, the State of Israel beckoned in its national day of mourning with the piercing sound of a siren declaring a minute silence. Remembrance Day was traditionally dedicated to soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, however in recent years this has been extended to the thousands of victims of terror. Official memorial ceremonies were held across the country, in city squares, schools, and community centers.

However, for many of the bereaved families these ceremonies are seen as extremely daunting and difficult to attend, especially for teenagers that have lost loved ones. For this reason the OneFamily organization’s youth division holds an intimate memorial event that encourages young bereaved Israelis to share their stories with other youngsters that have experienced the same horror of losing close relatives to terrorism.

“After my brother was killed, I couldn’t bear to attend the usual Remembrance Day ceremonies, they all seemed so disconnected from my reality, 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,” said Ofer Shambik whose brother David was brutally murdered in 2003 while taking a walk with his girlfriend in the Jerusalem forest.

Marc Belzberg, chairman and founder of OneFamily told those gathered: “We will continue to come together on Remembrance Day each year, as one family together, one caring family that understands each other’s 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 last 10 years, OneFamily has effected the rehabilitation of thousands of Israel’s 17,000 victims of terror; facilitating their healing and reintegration into society by providing material and rehabilitative support to anyone who has been bereaved, injured, and/or recognized as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The recipients of the 2011 Presidential Citation for Volunteerism, OneFamily uniquely provides a tailor-made blend of financial assistance, therapeutic programs, legal assistance, personal encouragement, and moral support.

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 bombing. Today, with 37 professionals and nearly 750 volunteers working from four centers around Israel, OneFamily operates in close cooperation with representatives of government, municipal, and community agencies to assure that every terror victim in need of support is known to the organization. The aim of OneFamily, with the help of friends and supporters around the world, is to assure continuity of care for terror victims into the next decade and beyond.

OneFamily

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/on-remembrance-day-young-bereaved-israelis-share-their-stories-as-onefamily-together/2012/04/25/

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