NETANYA – “The expression ‘time heals all wounds’ is simply not true, even a decade after the Pesach terror attack at the Park Hotel,” Batya Weinberg, a caseworker for the OneFamily organization said on the eve of last week’s 10th anniversary memorial gathering of victims and families who were directly affected by the atrocity.
The attack, which killed 30 and wounded 140, galvanized the Jewish state at the height of the Second Intifada. The day after the massacre, the IDF launched Operation Defensive Shield, a full-scale anti-terrorism operation in the Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.
More than a hundred victims and their families returned to the Netanya hotel for a memorial gathering and therapy session within the framework of the ongoing treatment and care provided by OneFamily.
“The trauma and the yearning for lost family members remains,” Weinberg told The Jewish Press. “At the annual yahrzeits some people cry as if the tragedy occurred yesterday. It’s hard for some of them to deal with their losses, especially in the case of a child. A widow or widower can remarry and repair part of the pain but there is no replacement for a dead child.”
During last week’s memorial service, which was attended by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, the OneFamily Bereaved Fathers Choir sang verses from Tehillim, while relatives of the victims lit memorial candles for their loved ones.
Corrine Hamami, the widow of Amiram Hamami, the manager of the hotel who was killed in the attack, spoke about her determination to keep the hotel open despite the serious physical and psychological hurdles.
“Overnight I found myself alone with six children. I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I found strength in my family and decided then that the terrorists would not defeat us,” she said.
“Returning to the Park Hotel is an integral part of the healing and rehabilitation of the victims, offering them the opportunity to remember and display their resilience in the face of such tragedy,” noted OneFamily founder and chairman Marc Belzberg. “We will continue to support the victims into the next decade, for as long as they need us.”
Several Park Hotel families have provided comfort to the families victimized in the recent terror attack in Toulouse, France.
“Even though every tragedy returns people to the same moment, it’s also important for them to provide strength to one another,” said Weinberg. “OneFamily provides the moral, social and economic framework for the victims to piece their lives back together again, no matter how long it might take.”