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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nytimes.com: Wounded by Terrorism, Teenagers From 5 Nations Share Stories

Naor Abutbul, a burly 17-year-old Israeli, wrestled with his emotions. Emotions had the upper hand.

The young man was sitting on a bench at a storefront museum called the Tribute WTC Visitor Center, across Liberty Street from where the twin towers used to stand. In front of him was a wall filled with faces of the 9/11 fallen, looking forever happy in photos taken when long life seemed a given. Naor kept his head down. He couldn’t bring himself to look at the faces.

“It’s hard,” he said in Hebrew. Asked why, all he could do was repeat, “It’s hard.”

Enough said.

Ten years later, images of Sept. 11, which form the core of the visitor center, remain tough for many people. Boxes of tissues are on benches there for a reason.

Naor was more burdened than most. So were his 11 companions, most younger than he, most strangers to one another. They had come to New York from five countries, but had one thing in common. Whether from Israel, Northern Ireland, France, Spain or Liberia, each had been scarred by terrorism.

Naor’s mother, Hadas Abutbul, was ambushed by Palestinian gunmen and killed as she drove in the West Bank. That was on Nov. 9, 2001. Naor noted that Nov. 9 is rendered 9/11 in most countries, Israel included.

Quentin Area-darses and Malou Anglade, both 16, came from Paris. While on a group tour in Cairo two years ago, they were wounded by bombs hurled into a crowded market. Quentin still has shrapnel in his right leg.

Alberto Sánchez, 13, has struggled to bounce back after his mother, Trinidá Sánchez, became one of 191 people killed in the 2004 bombings of commuter trains in Madrid.

Clare Mailey, 14, survived a pipe-bomb attack in Belfast a decade ago. Terry Hardy, 18, descends from a long line of victims of political and religious violence in Northern Ireland. His grandfather, an aunt, three uncles and three cousins were murdered. Though the chaos has subsided, Terry said, he still lives “in fear of something happening again.”

There they were, a quorum of horror.

They had been brought to New York by One Heart Global, a nonprofit organization that seeks to help victims of terrorism who have lasting physical and psychological scars. It was founded a few years ago by Sarri Singer, an American, and Jacob Kimchy, an Israeli.

Ms. Singer was on a bus in Jerusalem in 2003 when a Palestinian suicide bomber disguised as an Orthodox Jew blew himself up. Sixteen people around her were killed. Her wounds were confined largely to a split clavicle and a low hissing in one ear that persists to this day. For Mr. Kimchy, One Heart Global was a way to honor his father, Rami Kimchy, killed in a 2002 terrorist attack in Rishon LeZiyyon, Israel.

Theirs is a club no one would wish to join. But they felt it was needed, Ms. Singer said, because “time doesn’t always heal.” A bombing occurs, funerals are held, political leaders express outrage and sympathy, news gatherers send their reports — and then the world goes about its business. But the pain can endure.

The thinking behind the teenagers’ visit this week was that they might benefit from sharing their stories. That made sense to them. “People can understand the feeling and the pain that I have,” Malou Anglade said, “because they have experienced the same thing.”

Their stay in the city has included meetings with the police commissioner and with ambassadors to the United Nations from Israel and Ireland. There were also timeouts for shopping and for watching TV shows like “Family Guy.” Teenagers are teenagers, no matter what their circumstances.

INEVITABLY, there was the stop at ground zero. They were led by a guiding force behind the visitor center, Lee Ielpi, a retired firefighter whose firefighter son, Jonathan, died on Sept. 11. Only “nobody died from the terrorist attack,” Mr. Ielpi told them. “They were murdered.”

Like Naor, others in the group found it hard to put the nightmare of 9/11 in context with their own suffering.

“They carry the trauma, but don’t have the language to express it,” said Tricia Magee, who accompanied four teenagers from Northern Ireland. She is in charge of youth services at the Wave Trauma Center in Belfast.

“If you can’t get the words out, it can become a block, and be disruptive,” Ms. Magee said. “When you’re young, you think you’re the only one experiencing something like that.” Showing them that they are not alone, she said, can only do good.

Via www.nytimes.com

thejewishweek.com: Happy Campers, Unhappy Memories

Evyatar, a kindergarten student in Israel 13 years ago, sensed that something was wrong when neither of his parents picked him up from school. An uncle showed up a few hours later and told his nephew what had happened – Evyatar’s parents had been attacked by terrorists at an Israeli toy store; his father was dead, his mother injured. Ben Borgia, a voice-over actor in Australia, heard his tragic family news at 7 a.m., Sydney time, seven years ago.

His phone rang. His mother and 13-year-old sister, he learned, were among 202 people killed, 88 of them Australians, in a terrorist bombing the previous night in an Indonesian nightclub. Bali that day became Australia’s 9/11. For two recent weeks, Evyatar, a 19-year-old Jew, and Borgia, a 29-year-old Catholic, and several other young Jews and Christians, shared their common experiences as victims and survivors of terrorism.

At a weeklong camp sponsored by the One Heart Global organization (oneheartglobal.org) at Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, and during a subsequent week of touring here, they shared their stories of loss, comforted each other, laughed and cried together, and talked about common interests in music and sports. “People” who have escaped a terrorist attack or lost a family member to terrorism “don’t get to share their stories very much” with others who have gone through the same experience, says Evyatar, a recent high school graduate who asked that his full name not be printed. For him and the other participants in the One Heart Global activities – including teens from Spain, Liberia, the United States and Northern Ireland – the camp’s therapy sessions and conflict resolution lessons, leadership training classes and entertainment downtime, were a rare chance to unburden themselves or simply keep their feelings to themselves with peers who understand either choice.

The camp was co-sponsored by Tuesday’s Children (tuesdayschildren.org), a family service organization founded by family and friends of 9-11 victims. “It helps. It helps a lot,” Evyatar says. He and Borgia, who is working on an oral history project with other victims of terrorism, discussed the discomfort they feel, or which friends feel, when the subject of parents come up. “When people talk about their mothers, it’s a very difficult experience,” Borgia says. He feels his loss especially at those times. He and Evyatar discussed how they coped with losing a parent, suddenly, to terrorism. Evyatar, then still a kid, would keep his emotions inside. Borgia says he took up drinking. “For a long time I had to escape.” And they talked about the ongoing impact of terrorism on other members of their families. Borgia says he joined the One Heart Global group as part of his mission to help fellow victims of terrorism, particularly needed in a country like Australia that does not offer the network of support services for victims of terrorism available in this country and Israel.

“I’m trying to find my purpose,” he says. The organization includes the training and conflict resolution sessions in its annual camp in order “to promote the idea of global peace” among the people most affected by hatred, says Sarri Singer, co-founder of One Heart Global. “This is the next generation. These are the next leaders of their countries.” Singer, a native of New Jersey and assistant director of career services at Touro College, was injured in a terrorist bus bombing in Jerusalem six years ago. The blast killed 17 people, including everyone around her on the bus, and injured 100 more; she spent more than a week in the hospital. She and Jacob Kimchy, a Sabra whose father was killed in a terrorist attack in Rishon Lezion seven years ago, established One Heart Global to help other victims of terrorism heal.

The organization’s motto is “Healing victims of terror and their families around the world.” “Terrorism does not discriminate,” Singer says. “It’s not just one country’s problem. It’s not just Israel’s problem.” The pain of losing a parent is “always there – it’s a scar for life,” even if it is not always discussed, says Kimchy, who helped found One Heart Global as a memorial to his father, Rami. In New York, Kimchy and Singer and the participants in this summer’s activities told their stories, some hesitantly, some more confidently, during meetings with Israel Consul General Asaf Shariv and Gov. David Paterson. The governor, who talked about government efforts to assist workers who became ill after working at the World Trade Center terrorism site, said he was inspired by young people who had lost relatives to terrorism but are working to help other people. “I’m afraid [you] would have become jaded,” he said.

“There is a fight you can wage with a spirit.” The group’s itinerary here included shopping and sightseeing, and meetings with other politicians and One Heart Global donors. The subject of each person’s loss to terrorism came up during the two weeks, but not all the time, Evyatar says. “My whole life is not about that.”

Via http://www.thejewishweek.com/features/happy_campers_unhappy_memories_1

tlvfaces.com: Israel Releases 26 Terrorists; What about the Families of the Victims?

26 terrorists were release from an Israeli jail last night. These 26 murderers left the families of the victims with a hole in their heart and a lifetime of pain. It’s a kind of pain that follows you everywhere and stays with you for years, even in the happiest of events.

I lost my father to a suicide bombing during the second Intifada. And while the terrorists being released had nothing to do with my father, their release has hit home and is an unbearable turn of events.

But more importantly for the victims, there is a need to prepare them for the fact that those who murdered their loved ones are now free.  Even more disappointing than the release is the fact that the Israeli government has failed to do this. Most of the families heard the news from friends or surfing the web, not from the government or through psychologists deployed to help prepare them for this torturous day.

It is accepted that when a soldier is hurt or killed in battle, a group of psychologists and government officials, will go to the parent’s home to tell them the news. So why is the release of a murderer not equal to this? It is a second loss for the family and they need, now more than ever, the government’s full attention to help them recovery. It is like sitting a second “shiva”.

After speaking with many victims of terrorism over the last few days, and based on my own experiences through my organization, One Heart, which I founded to help victims of terrorism, I know all too well that this event touches the hearts of many, and the help that the Israeli government needs to provide is even wider. The release of these 26 terrorists causes a new pain to the thousands of Israeli victims of terrorism. One cannot imagine what we see when we close our eyes, and recent events have only brought those to the forefront once more.

A release should be well thought out and looked at from many angles. After all, for many victims, today it feels like our loved ones have been killed all over again.

Via www.tlvfaces.com

nysun.com: WTC Survivors To Meet With One Heart, Group for Terror Victims

After the terrorist arracks of September 11, 2001, New Yorkers tapped into the vast reservoir of experience to terrorism that Israelis possess.

The experience-sharing will continue – and flow both ways – at a meeting on June 26 between the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network and One Heart, a two-month old organization that hopes to provide survivors of terrorist attacks who may have psychological trauma with emotional support. Although not limited to victims of terror in Israel, all of its initial members fit that bill.

“One of our goals is to use our experience to help other survivors,” said Richard Zimbler, an organizer for the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network, which has 750 members. “When we first started out, the survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing gave us advice,” he said, and now September 11 victims are passing it along to others.

One of the two founders of One Heart, Jacob Kimchy, said, “It’s important to bring survivors from different places to one table, to one forum.”

The main purpose of One Heart is to make both group and individual psychological therapy available to survivors of terrorism who may be experiencing long-term trauma, and for relatives of those who have been killed. “Usually people who want to help focus only on immediate needs,” said the other founder of the organization, Sarri Singer. “Nobody thinks into the future.”

Another area of support is providing survivors with the resources to receive plastic surgery for deformities stemming from their attacks-an area that Ms. Singer said directly relates back to psychological trauma-.

In addition to the meeting with the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network, organizers of One Heart hope to have monthly meetings. A first meeting two weeks ago drew 15 to 20 people.

“There’s something about finding people who had the same experience as you that’s therapeutic,” said Barbara Chasen, a Ph.D. psychoanalyst who voluntarily led the first meeting and hopes to lead a few more. “In the talking there’s a bonding experience,” said Ms. Chasen.

Ms. Chasen offered testimony that sharing personal experiences could be therapeutic. She was stuck in an airport when the February blizzard hit New York City. She had overheard a man talking with an accent and asked him if he was Israeli. Mr. Kimchy responded that he was. They started talking about the latest terrorist attack in Israel, and Mr. Kimchy responded that he was in America to begin One Heart, and he said that he had lost his father in an attack. She soon told him that she had lost her 12-year-old son 13 years earlier after he was hit by a car.

“He took out a picture of his father, and I took out a picture of my son,” she said. “There we were two stranger sharing our deepest pains.”

Via http://www.nysun.com/new-york/wtc-survivors-to-meet-with-one-heart-group/34176/