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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Bat-Galim Shaer with some of the volunteers. (Credit: OneFamily)

The volunteers share their experiences working with the families. (Credit: OneFamily)

Some of the volunteers with their certificates, marking their volunteer efforts throughout the year. (Credit: OneFamily)

(Courtesy of OneFamily) Every year, OneFamily, Israel’s leading organization that supports victims of terror and their families, invites seminary students, who spend a year in Israel post-high school, to come volunteer with the organization on a weekly basis. The women work primarily with youth who have been affected by terror attacks. Last week, a group of about 25 women volunteers, came together for a final event to receive certificates of appreciation from OneFamily’s Chantel Belzberg who thanked them for their dedication to the organization.

The evening’s special guest speaker, Bat-Galim Shaer, whose son Gilad was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists five years ago, spoke to the girls about the importance of their work.

“What you did at OneFamily is the answer to becoming a better person. The fact you volunteered each week is something special and meaningful to the injured and wounded families, who need us to be by their side,” said Shaer.

For many of the women, who came from Australia, South Africa and the United States, this experience was their first encounter with families whose lives have been shattered by terror. The women were paired off and assigned families to visit. Many expressed hesitation at first but as soon as the door opened, were warmly welcomed.

“We loved playing with the children and taking them out,” said Rivkah Abrams of Los Angeles, California, who intends to remain in Israel and enlist in the army. “The experience was very meaningful for me, perhaps because, unlike other organizations, here you see the immediate impact of what you are doing.”

Ellie Berger of Brooklyn, New York, echoed the sentiment and said she will definitely recommend to her friends that they volunteer with OneFamily. “It was an amazing experience, one I will never forget.”

“I am obsessed with the children,” said Kate Weinberg of New Jersey. “It became my favorite time of the week and, even though my Hebrew is not that good, we got along fine. They are so special and I intend to keep in touch with them.”