shalomlife.com (Interview): One Man’s Journey from Trauma & Terrorism to Meaning & Purpose

On May 7th, 2002, Jacob Kimchy’s entire life changed. The Rishon Lezion native was out for a late-night dinner with a friend when he received a call informing him of a terror attack that took place at The Sheffield Club, a popular spot in his hometown.

Rushing to the venue so he could help the survivors, he bore witness to the horrific scene inside before noticing a taxi cab parked outside.

It was his father’s.

The next few years would be somber for the Kimchy family, and equally so for Jacob, filled with grief and suffering over the injustice that occurred, and over the loss of his father. Somehow, he eventually found a new light, and sought out help. Jacob discovered that his experience with trauma – his story – could help others who’ve suffered from trauma, others who’ve lost friends and loved ones to terrorism. He moved to the U.S., and co-started a foundation, One Heart, helping victims of terrorism around the world. He also recalled his experiences during his position as a motivational speaker, and helped victims dealing with grief as a life coach.

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Algemeiner.com: On Israel’s Memorial Day, One Man’s Quest to Channel the Trauma of Terror Victims Into Something Positive

In 2002, Jacob Kimchy’s father died in a Hamas suicide bombing in his hometown of Rishon LeZion. Thirteen years later Kimchy is still struggling with the loss, including nightmares that have him screaming in middle of the night.

Nevertheless, he has embarked on a journey to help other terror victims overcome their traumas as Israel on Wednesday marks Yom Hazikaron, the national day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

“I met victims of trauma that would not share anything,” said Kimchy. The pain builds up inside the victims, “it’s like a poison. It kills you and eats you slowly. The other way is to open your heart, to open your mouth, to express and to share, and to do.”

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unitedwithisrael.org: Jacob Kimchy’s Journey From Terror Victim to Motivational Speaker

Contending with his own deep loss, the son of a terror victim finds new meaning in life by helping others deal with their grief.

Nearly 13 years ago, a Ukrainian woman and her Palestinian husband drove a suicide bomber to Rishon Lezion, a city in central Israel. The suicide bomber entered a game club on the night of May 7, 2002, located on the third floor of a building, and detonated a suitcase full of explosives, complete with shrapnel and nails. Patrons at the club had been playing card games, slot machines and snooker as the explosion went off, causing part of the building to collapse.

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algemeiner.com: How an Israeli Hero is Helping Victims of Terror Begin Life Anew

Since September 2000, Israeli society has been subjected to numerous deadly terror attacks. Since then, several studies have examined the stress-related mental health symptoms and coping behaviors of surviving family members of these barbaric acts.

Indeed, research has revealed that people who experienced an attack directly showed elevated levels of distress, lowered sense of security, and pathological reactions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

Despite the psychological and emotional damage wrought by direct exposure to an act of terrorism, people such as Jacob Kimchy have channeled their unimaginable sorrow into the cause of a lifetime.

In 2002, Jacob’s father Rami Kimchy entered a nightclub in his hometown of Rishon Letzion to pick up a client. Rami was a dedicated family man and hardworking taxi driver. A few minutes after Rami had walked into the club, an 18-year-old Hamas suicide bomber entered it and blew himself up, killing Rami and 14 others instantly.

Jacob was one of the first to arrive at the grizzly scene, which he refers to as ‘the devil’s playground,’ hoping to help any survivors. Only later did Jacob notice his father’s taxi parked out front.

In one horrifying moment, Jacob realized that his father was murdered.

Yet, after many months of indescribable agony, Jacob slowly came to the realization that one way to carry on living with such unimaginable pain was by reaching out to other victims of terrorism. In time, this coping mechanism would flower into a life mission. Jacob would go on to establish One Heart, a non-profit organization that since 2006 has brought hundreds of children and adults together from around the world for Survivors’ Circles and summer camps.

Jacob is also a noted public speaker on the subject of surviving trauma and terrorism, having appeared at international conferences whose audiences included heads of state, governors, ministers of parliament, and mayors.

Now, Jacob is embarking on the next phase of his mission to bring a bit of healing to the long-suffering.

Jacob is in the final stages of completing his first book, written in loving memory of his father Rami. The book, ‘A New Sunrise,’ details Jacob’s harrowing yet inspirational journey.

Jacob’s book is to be self-published. As such, he has recently launched a campaign to raise money for ‘A New Sunrise.’

According to Jacob: “I have met countless people with powerful and unforgettable stories, each of whom gave me a piece of their strength to persevere in the name of justice and life. Through my own journey, I have learned that to be a victim of terrorism is to live every day with pain, longing, and loss. It is never over. But I have also learned there is a light for each of us to step into, no matter what… Each person can find their new sunrise, but sometimes we need help to get there. My mission in life is to be that help for as many people as I can. That is my father’s legacy.”

You can learn more about Jacob Kimchy’s motivation behind writing ‘A New Sunrise’ in this short YouTube clip.

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unitedwithisrael.org: From Terror Victim to Warrior: Jacob Kimchy’s Story

An Israeli man stricken by terror has made it his life mission to help victims and their families. It is a story of triumph over the darkest forces of evil.

As the terrible attacks of 9/11 are remembered and mourned, we selected to focus on the story of one terror victim from Israel who, by continuing a legacy of mutual support and giving, chose not to succumb to terror.

Jacob remembers the fateful phone call vividly. “Where are you!” screamed a friend who worked for Israeli Intelligence.  “There’s been a terrorist attack!  Where are you?” I immediately called my father. But there was no answer. I went straight to the scene of the bombing.”In 2002, Rami Kimchy, 57, a taxi driver, entered a club in his hometown of Rishon Letzion, near Tel Aviv, to pick up a client.  Within minutes, an 18-year-old Hamas suicide bomber entered after him and blew himself up, killing Rami and 14 others instantly.  His son, Jacob, was one of the first to arrive at the scene, in hopes of helping survivors, only to recognize his father’s car parked in front and to quickly realize the dreadful fact that his father had been murdered.

Overcoming Loss and Tragedy

“For many months after the murder, I could find no way forward.  What was this life? What kind of a God would allow something like this to happen to a kind, sweet man who had never hurt anyone?  I was lost. I found myself driving at night as fast as I could, up to 100 miles per hour at times, music blaring, screaming and crying.”

Jacob was sure he would never be able to overcome the loss and tragedy. But he did.  After attending a support group for young people who had lost their parents, at the request of his mother, Jacob found his path.

Despite the psychological and emotional damage wrought by direct exposure to an act of terrorism, Jacob channeled his unimaginable sorrow into the cause of a lifetime. After many months of indescribable agony, he slowly came to the realization that one way to carry on living with such unimaginable pain is by reaching out to other victims of terror. In time, this coping mechanism would flower into a mission.

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