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Friday, May 10, 2024 

OneFamily, much like 911 Families, is something Europe needs

This article talks about the Israeli support group OneFamily, which has a similar purpose to movements like 911 Families for a Safe and Strong America:
On Monday, May 13, sirens will sound again in observance of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day for the fallen soldiers and victims of terror, reopening the wounds of the thousands who are reeling in the aftermath of the horrific October 7 massacre and ongoing war with Hamas. For Shira Mark-Harif, this day symbolizes the endless cycle of loss and pain that she has endured for more than eight years.

In 2016, at the age of 24, Shira was a new mother of two living in Har Hevron, surrounded by her large, enveloping family, 9 siblings and loving parents, when her entire world came crashing down. On July 1, 2016, Shira’s father, Rabbi Miki Mark was driving his car along Route 60, along with his wife and two of his children, when terrorists opened fire, killing Miki and injuring Shira’s mother and two siblings. Her mother suffered extensive brain damage, leaving Shira, the second oldest child, to assume the role of the primary guardian for her younger four siblings.

With her life shattered and faced with the impossible task of now caring for six children, along with her mother, Shira began to lose herself.

“My father was my entire world, but because I was over the age of 21, I fell through the cracks,” Shira shares, just ahead of Yom Hazikaron, adding that aside from basic support as a foster parent and emotional therapy, she was not entitled to any other support from the Israeli government, “It was through the support of OneFamily that I felt that there was somebody to check on me, to feel connection and that community has helped me build strong lifelong friendships.”

Founded in 2001 by Marc and Chantal Belzberg and inspired by their daughter after the Sbarro Suicide Bombing, OneFamily steps up where others do not bring together Israel’s victims of terror into one, national, self-supportive family. For Shira, like the more than 7,200 families supported by the organization since 2001, it helped her find herself again.

Understanding the emotional complexities of the families of the victims of terror, OneFamily took the initiative to gradually reach out to Shira and her siblings, first attending the shiva of her father, and then over time developing a budding relationship that has turned into the central force that has allowed the Mark family to continue living.

“At first, it is just chaos,” she recalls. “I had no idea what I needed, but OneFamily continued to reach out and provide us with everything we needed.”

“My mother and I began to attend ceramics classes in Jerusalem and group activities with other families of victims of terror,” Shira explains, adding that her mother continues to travel two hours to Jerusalem from their new home in the Golan Heights each week just so she does not miss a single ceramics class. “They truly see you, and give us strength, the ability to breath and a connection with the larger community.”

But unfathomable tragedy struck again, just two and a half years after the death of her father, as Shira’s oldest brother, Shlomi, was killed in a traffic accident while on his way to work at the Prime Minister’s office in 2019.
That's absolutely terrible more tragedy occurred. And people like her should have the backing of the government considering what they've been through.
While OneFamily has created a model for national support in the face of terrorism, a stark reality that many Western countries do not share, more than 60,000 Israelis have joined the list of victims of terror will statistically leave thousands to fall through the cracks, just as Shira would have without the immediate response of the organization.
Well this is something European countries need to emulate, not to mention Latin American and Asian countries that could've been struck by similar tragedies too. So let's hope somebody in said countries will draw some ideas from this, since there's only too many there who've suffered enough and need a good movement's backing for a change.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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