When an Israeli becomes a victim of a senseless act of terrorism, the trauma has a ripple effect, causing emotional and physical scars that do not heal so easily. Families are torn apart; lives are changed in a matter of seconds.
"We know that even if the terrorism stops today, so much of the population has already been affected by the trauma," said Jeri Zimmerman, director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Center for Israel and Overseas. "We are concerned about the long-term effects of years of terrorism."
Among the center's priorities is security for victims of terror and children at risk. With that in mind, Federation has created specific programs and is partnering with other organizations to ease the victims' pain, help them to cope and go on with their lives, and prepare people in the event of terrorism.
Support services include counseling, hotlines and group homes for children.
"Since children are our future, we are helping to create safe, nurturing environments where they can live without the fear of violence," said Zimmerman.
Multiple programs supported by the center are helping to heal wounds, both emotional and physical.
"One Family" provides counseling and support services for traumatized victims. Camp Koby of the Koby Mandell Foundation is a therapeutic summer camp for children severely injured by terrorism. NATAL is an organization that offers counseling services for soldiers and civilians suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hatzolah provides emergency medical services, often via ambucycles – motorcycles equipped with medical equipment. Zimmerman explained that since the streets around Jerusalem are so congested, ambucycles are utilized as mobile intensive- care units for immediate rescue.
This initiative has a strong local connection. At Federation's Country Club Days this past spring, Meadowlands and Radnor Valley country-club members purchased ambucycles that were then donated to Hatzolah.
Center board members Eve Orlow and Cindy Smukler Dorani recently returned from a trip to Israel, where they saw firsthand the impact of Federation's work.
"From my perspective as a psychologist and an active member of the Jewish community, I am in awe at the resiliency of the Israelis," said Orlow, also chair of Federation's Women's Philanthropy board.
She was equally struck by the altruism of the Israeli people and their desire to help others even in the face of trauma.
"They know what the dangers are and there's no pretending; yet they get up every morning, go to work, go to the market, visit with family and friends, go about their lives," explained Orlow. "It is truly inspirational how they deal with and approach life in such a positive manner."
Dorani said that everywhere she and Orlow traveled – from visiting schools and special homes for children to speaking with program administrators – people kept thanking them for the financial assistance and personal support.
"I knew that our funds were making a difference," she said. "Yet after taking this trip, I realize that the need is still great and we could do even more."
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