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.”