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Detroiter's Message of Healing To Sderot
Detroit Jewish News
July 11, 2010
Sderot, Israel - When the Tzeva Adam sirens sound in Sderot - a small town less than a mile from the Gaza Strip - men, women and children alike know they have a mere 15 seconds to find shelter.
Never knowing exactly when another rocket attack will occur, the 20,000 residents of Sderot, many underprivileged, live in a constant state of fear; hoping to survive with the few safety shelters available. The people of Sderot have trained themselves not to leave a building unless they know where the nearest doorway or shelter is.
Since the beginning of the second intifada (Palestinian uprising), Sderot has experienced more than 6,000 Qassam missile attacks. The children of Sderot have never known a day without the constant reminder of the "Color Red" sirens.
Nearly 1,400 people throughout Israel have been killed and more than 17,000 injured in terrorist attacks since September 2000. It is estimated that one out of every 441 Israelis has been injured in a terrorist attack.
"Not one neighborhood or family has not experienced the trauma of a missile exploding nearby,' said Yehuda Poch, director of communications for One Family Fund, a Jerusalem-based international nonprofit organization to help Israeli survivors of terrorist attacks. “ Many people suffer not only physical wounds, but from post-traumatic stress disorder, sleeping disorders and simple terror.”
One Family Fund has been working to raise awareness of the daily terrors and long-term effects of terrorist attacks experienced by the people of Israel. The organization also provides financial, legal, and emotional assistance to terror victims. However, the organizations goals include not just the collection of money, but also human resources, inviting volunteers from across Israel and around the world to assist victims of terror.
Recently, disabled rights advocate and attorney Richard Bernstein, of the Sam Bernstein Law Firm in Farmington Hills, visited One Family Fund in Jerusalem to meet with the survivors of terrorist attacks.
"As a blind person who has been able to overcome my own disability as well as help others with disabilities, One Family Fund thought my own experiences might inspire some of the survivors to share their stories with one another and know they are not alone as they cope with the unpredictable attacks;' said Bernstein.
One Family Fund invited Bernstein to encourage terrorist attack victims and to discuss how they can still achieve their potential despite having been hurt by life's cruelties and tribulations. Bernstein also discussed his advocacy work in fighting for the implementation and expansion of rights for the disabled, which is a significant issue in Israel: one affecting nearly every victim of terror.
The survivors quickly connected with Bernstein and were heartened that someone from Metro Detroit, who could understand what they were going through and to whom they could relate, had come to talk to them about their pain and trauma, said Poch.
During Bernstein's visit, survivors talked about their pain and fears, how the attacks have continued to damage their families and livelihood, and to discuss how they are being treated by society. Predominantly taking a listening role during the discussion, Bernstein also offered advice to the survivors, both practical and personal.
"When a person suffers the stress of continued terrorist attacks, it's the kind of wounds that time will never heal. Not only are these survivors nursing crippling physical disabilities and scars, they are hindered by disabilities that are not physically identifiable.
"The hardest part of the trip was meeting several mothers who had witnessed their children killed in terrorist attacks, families who were afraid to send their children to school and people who felt so alone they could barely function.
"It is critical people understand what terror victims are going through long after the initial attack. It's at this time, when help is often absent, that people need as much support as possible. Many of these survivors have lost everything, and though the physical wounds may have healed, they are still wounded. One Family Fund has done a tremendous job in providing support for survivors throughout Israel;' said Bernstein.
One Family Fund has given more than $25 million in financial, social, emotional, therapeutic, legal, and material assistance to more than 3,500 victims, providing personalized care and support.
"It's important people realize that were not just talking about numbers, but mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers;' said Poch.
"Each terror attack leaves behind people whose lives have been traumatized. By generating awareness for what the people of Israel are going through and providing a way to help, we can create hope.
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