During the summer months, the group ‘One Family’ holds outings for Israelis who have suffered first-hand the tragedies of terror and wars, and this year is the organization’s 16th year.
“Whenever I would speak about my brother anywhere else people would just freeze. It was difficult for them to speak. Here the environment is easier. You can laugh about everything, speak about everything,” said Yitzhak Sarel, whose brother died during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Hundreds of these victims, intimately, albeit indirectly, affected by terror attacks and wars gather together at the beginning of what Israelis call ‘The Big Vacation.’
The participants are divided into four groups: boys, girls, mixed and youngsters aged between 18-24, who are given the opportunity to engage in fun activities as well as receiving the help they require after their loss.
On Monday for example, dozens of motorbikes were brought to the camp from the Israeli Motorcycle Club to a school where the youngsters are gathered. There, the youths were able to hop on the back and take a ride with one of the motorcyclists in the Golan Heights and the upper Galilee.
“Anyone who knows the experience of riding on a motorbike knows how wonderful it is. It’s a feeling of freedom, space. To see the views from a slightly different angle without telephones. It allows them to demonstrate their presence and say to everyone ‘we are here,’” said Yaniv Yair, one of the riders who brought his stunning BMW bike for a spin.
Yaniv’s brother was also killed after a Katyusha rocket landed near Kibbutz Kfar Giladi during the Second Lebanon War in 2006,
"I think this shared fate makes them trust me more. Only someone who has been there knows and understands what it means,” Yaniv explained.
Another one of the participants is Dvir, whose father Rabbi Yaakov Litman and brother Netanel were killed in a 2015 terror attack, also reflected on how it was to be with others who had shared experiences.
“In regular settings it is a little difficult to open up about it with people who haven’t been through similar things. They don’t really understand or know how to handle it,” said Dvir, who is now participating in his second year of the One Family camp.
“Here, everyone has gone through something similar. They have lost someone close to them and it makes it a lot easier to open up, to speak about it. Everyone understands that he doesn’t need to be embarrassed. Here, everyone copes with it in his own way. After the camp I feel stronger, with new friends, and more people who understand me.”