With Chabad of Rome: A Shabbat of Healing for Israel's Survivors of Terror

With Chabad of Rome: A Shabbat of Healing for Israel's Survivors of Terror

by Staff Writer - Jerusalem, Israel

November 26, 2007

Dolphinarium, Sbarro’s, Jerusalem Bus 2 . . . To Israelis, these are euphemisms for terrorist attacks; to survivors, they represent the demarcation that tragically reframed their lives into a before-and-after.

Thankfully, there have been less of these now, and while the country bravely marches on, the struggle continues for the children who've lost parents, and for the parents who've lost children.

Indeed, long after the last of the debris was collected, long after the sites of the attacks have been restored and the routine is back to normal, the victims of terror continue to suffer in every way imaginable. The physical handicaps, the grief over lost loved ones, the shattered families and irreparable losses—are, at least for the survivors, sometimes too catastrophic to articulate.

So they don’t. They keep it in and try to move on.

But it takes one broken heart to know another, and who better to understand and empathize than fellow survivors? The comfort they may offer one another in their shared grief and loss can be invaluable.

That was the idea behind a recent Shabbat (November 16-18)  for Israel’s terror victims, sponsored by the Jewish community of Rome, Italy, which worked with Sharei Alia in Lod, Israel.

Organized jointly by Chabad brothers Rabbis Yitzchak and Avraham Chazan, respective Chabad community leaders in Rome, Italy and Lod, Israel, the Shabbaton brought hundreds of terror survivors to spend a healing Shabbat in Jerusalem, at the Jerusalem Gold Hotel.

Little children, parents and grandparents—all survivors of one or another terrorist suicide bomber, shared an inspired Shabbat surrounded by the solidarity they found with their fellow survivors.

The weekend presented an all too rare opportunity for survivors to talk freely and openly of their pain, to grieve together and draw strength from one another.

Uplifting prayer services, spirited Chasidic joy and relevant conversations and Torah study proved comforting as well. In the midst of so much loss, participants exuded an almost-exuberant positive energy. The spirited singing during prayers and in the animated conversations and laughter over four delicious meals were hopeful signs of healing, and of a desire to live fully in spite of the scars.

Rome’s Chabad community leaders and TVP supporters arrived from Italy to participate. Messrs. Eliyahu Naaman and Julio Muscati expressed Jewish Rome's solidarity with Israel's terror- victim families. Mr. Naaman presented each child with a Chanukah gift from his community—a little bit of love for deserving recipients, all the way from Rome.

Survivors publicly thanked organizers, expressing personal appreciation for the meaningful reprieve from the day-to-day hardships they confront as they try to keep going while carrying the emptional burdens of their misfortune. 

The Rome-Lod sponsored Shabbaton began six years ago, and is now an annual event.

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