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September 3, 2013 9:04 am

Tel Aviv Exhibit Honors Child Victims of Terror

avatar by Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency

Racheli Tzukerman stands next to the art exhibit in memory of her brother killed in a Jerusalem bus bombing in 2004. Photo: Tomer Yaish / Tazpit News Agency.

Against the backdrop of a red sun dipping into the Mediterranean, friends and family members gathered together to honor more than 1,000 child terror victims at Tel Aviv’s Old Railway Station last Thursday, August 29.

In what was a special gala event organized by OneFamily Fund, the evening included the launching of a book called “Longing for a Hug,” which features accounts in Hebrew written by 152 children who have lost loved ones to Palestinian terrorism since the Second Intifada in late 2000. Assembling the book took six years, and the children who wrote the stories – many of whom are now young adults serving in the IDF – were present on Thursday to receive their published copies.

Along with the book, an art exhibit was also unveiled, featuring artwork by 40 leading Israeli and international artists including David D’or, Elan Siman Tov, and JoJo, who were directly inspired by the stories of these children.

Founded in 2001, OneFamily is Israel’s national organization that works to rehabilitate and rebuild the shattered lives of terror victims and their families through various therapeutic programs, as well as through legal and financial assistance. To date, the organization has worked with nearly 4,000 families impacted by terror.

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OneFamily, which is comprised of professional staff and volunteers, has had an especially unique impact on child terror victims.

When she was only 10 year sold, Racheli Tzukerman’s older brother, Benayah, was killed in a Jerusalem bus bombing.

In the book, Racheli writes about her brother: “And the longing for you is always there, inside. Benayah, I hear, see, hold, hug, and continue my life together with you.”

“I wrote this when I was 14,” Racheli told Tazpit News Agency, as she held the newly published book in her hands. “It’s strange to see this in print, to reread what I was thinking when I was still a child and all this happened,” she explains. “But it’s an important part of the healing process.”

Tzukerman is now 20 and serves as a commander in the IDF. Standing beside her, was Yakir Taranto, also 20, who lost his older brother, Moshe, when he was 12-years-old. Moshe was killed during an army operation to eliminate terrorists in Gaza nine years ago.

Taranto, from Ashdod, is an active member of OneFamily, having attended summer camps and other activities. “At first I didn’t want to join. I thought that this would be another support group,” he recalled. “But they wouldn’t stop calling and eventually I joined the program. I met my best friends here, and I was able to open up in a way that I couldn’t do with my family. Everyone understands each other because we’ve all gone through the pain of losing someone we loved.”

A shooting instructor in the IDF, Taranto got special leave to come to the OneFamily Event. “It’s very moving to be here,” he says. “We were all children when we wrote down our thoughts about our siblings and family members that were killed,” he adds. “Maybe I would have written about my brother differently now, but there is something special about capturing the moment when you are young.”

Tzukerman still remembers the staff from OneFamily visiting her family during the shiva, Judaism’s week-long mourning period after a family member’s passing. “OneFamily was with me from the first day of our family’s tragedy,” Tzukerman told Tazpit News Agency. “They [OneFamily] would regularly visit our home and were always in touch.”

For others, remembering their siblings is maintained in a different way. Tomer Idan, 21, from Rishon LeZion has a picture of his brother tattooed on his back, with the word “forever.” “I got the tattoo three years ago,” explained Idan, who is about to complete his army service.

Notable public figures who attended the event included Israeli Minister of Education, Shay Piron; Deputy Defense Minister, Danny Danon; IDF Chief Rabbi, Rafi Peretz; Tel Aviv mayor, Ron Huldai; and Israeli author David Grossman.

By opening the event to the public, OneFamily hopes to get across the message of the power of remembering to as many people as possible.

“Our hope is that these stories will never be forgotten. Victims of terror are part of our national story as the Jewish people, and not just individual to families,” said OneFamily spokesperson Rachel Moore.

“These children and their families need our ongoing support. The consequences of such tragedies never end. This is why OneFamily is here – to bring us all together so that we can provide the love and warmth that these families need by showing that we will never forget their losses.”

The Longing for a Hug exhibition is located at HaTachana, Tel Aviv’s Old Railway Station, and is open to the public until September 29.

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