(Courtesy of One Family) On Tuesday, November 12, as a barrage of rockets from Gaza, 400 of them, were landing in half of Israel, Michal Belzberg was at an emergency parlor meeting held in Teaneck. Eighteen years ago, on the day of Michal’s 12th birthday, the infamous bombing at the Sbarros Pizzeria in Jerusalem killed 15 and wounded 130. Michal and her parents, Marc and Chantal, decided together to use funds that were supposed to be for her bat mitzvah celebration to instead help the victims of the terrorist attack. The Belzberg family did not want “only” to hand out checks; rather, they wanted to become “like family” to the victims and actually fulfill their needs. Michal went from hospital bed to hospital bed talking with victims and asking what they needed. She then purchased whatever was necessary and brought it back to the individuals. One injured mother, whose husband was killed, needed a new stroller for her baby. An 8-year-old girl, who lost both parents, was given a necklace to remember that her new family would always be with her. A severely injured victim required a therapeutic bed.
The altruistic 12-year-old was on a chesed mission, and that was the beginning of OneFamily. OneFamily has grown into a large organization, providing legal, financial and emotional resources to victims and bereaved families all over Israel. Over the last 18 years, it has served 7,163 terror-victim families. It has given over 75,000 hours of therapy, support circles and workshops. Over 4,180 youth have participated in its therapeutic camps. OneFamily has developed a holistic treatment model established to fill the unique rehabilitative treatment needs of each individual family. Its mission is to rebuild shattered lives, so that each victim of terror becomes financially and emotionally independent, and an integrated part of society. “Growing post trauma” is a goal often referred to, and it is heartwarming when one member who receives help can simultaneously step outside of their own pain to help another member. OneFamily has developed programs for youth, young adults, widows and bereaved parents, which all build community.
On World Kindness Day, MDS invited Michal to speak to their middle school girls. Michal shared her story, and encouraged the girls to do an extra act of chesed, perhaps one small act of lovingkindness that was outside of their comfort zone, as she did at their age. Kindness and community go hand in hand at OneFamily.
At The Great Big Challah Bake organized by Jewish Journeys, Michal led 800 women in saying Tehillim and praying for the safety of those under attack in Israel, reaffirming that we are all “one family.”
The entire community is welcome to join Team OneFamily and experience the “power of together” when victims and donors run together as family at the Jerusalem Marathon this coming March, thereby stopping terror in its tracks.
Acts of chesed, prayer and giving tzedakah are all powerful ways to improve the imperfect world in which we live. Join OneFamily today! Please email [email protected] for more information, or check out the website at