Last weekend, 47 Canadians and over 100 Israeli victims of terror gathered for the eighth annual OneFamily Cross Israel Hike, a challenging 5-day Sea-to-Sea trek organized to raise money and awareness for Israeli victims of terror.
One Family, Israel’s leading national organization rebuilding, rehabilitating, and reintegrating Israel’s injured and bereaved victims of terror and war, established the event to present Canadian supporters with a truly unique opportunity to empower and connect with victims of terror. This year’s theme was “Hiking for Israel IN Israel” and took on an added level of importance and meaning given the events of this past summer.
“Hiking is a perfect way to show our solidarity. By supporting victims of terror, we help them heal one step at a time, one family at a time,” explained Julie Schwartz, a native of Toronto and an eight-time event participant.
“Hiking is also a beautiful metaphor. Those who deal with a loss must keep moving forward regardless of the terrain. As survivors, they choose life, and keep putting one foot in front of the other,” continued Schwartz, who had lost her own son many years ago in Canada.
The five-day hike through Northern Israel’s Upper Galilee started at the white chalk hills of Rosh Hanikra by the Mediterranean Sea, followed by Nachal Kziv in the Western Galilee through the Summit Trail of Mount Meron to the Amud River. The “Sea to Sea” journey ended with a victorious splash in the Sea of Galilee.
“For me, the hike is about connections – connecting with the families who need help, connecting with the land and the people of Israel, and reaching a deeper level of understanding within ourselves,” said Pam Albert, Former Executive Director OneFamily Canada.
“For the many victims of terror who walked with us, it meant simply moving beyond the trauma, surviving another day and reclaiming their lives.”
The most high-profile member of the OneFamily group was Canada’s Ambassador to Israel, Vivian Bercovici. Ms. Bercovici joined the hikers when they arrived at the retreat where bereaved parents were attending an outdoor therapy session.
Canada’s Ambassador to Israel, Vivian Bercovici (third from right) was inspired by OneFamily’s work on behalf of victims of terror and their families.
The Ambassador was quite emotional when she addressed the group, applauding OneFamily in Israel for their “important and life-altering” work. Additionally, she shared that she was truly inspired by the courage and strength of the victims and was honored to recognize them by joining in the hike.
“It’s no wonder that the Ambassador was so moved by the experience,” explained Gary Tile, Executive Director of OneFamily Canada, “the physical and emotional beauty of this event as well as the bonds forged with the victims compel the participants to return year after year, bringing friends and family with them.”