Canadians hike northern Israel alongside terror victims, organized by Israeli NGO OneFamily.. (photo credit:JONNI SUPER)
Eighty-eight Jewish Canadians hiked the Golan Heights on the 10th-anniversary trek of Israeli NGO OneFamily.
The organization arranges annual hikes to raise money for its work to help Israelis who have been bereaved, maimed or suffer from post-traumatic stress as a result of terrorist attacks.
This year hikers explored the Golan during the five-day trip, which was organized in cooperation with One- Family’s Canadian branch. Hikers were grouped according to four levels: advanced; intermediate; moderate; and para-trek for hikers with disabilities.
Israeli able bodied and disabled victims of terrorism could join the para-trek group.
Among the latter was Orit Mark, whose father, Rabbi Michael Mark, 48, a father of 10 and the director-general of the Otniel Yeshiva, was killed in a drive-by shooting on Route 60 in the South Hebron Hills on July 1, 2016, and whose mother and sister, 14, were severely wounded in the same attack. A brother, 15, was lightly wounded.
Also joining them was Stevie (Shimon) Bloomberg, who has lost his wife, Tehiya, 16 years ago in a terrorist attack near Karnei Shomron, in which he and their daughter Tzippi were wounded. Both have been paralyzed since the attack. The para-trek group provided an opportunity for interactions between the victims and those who seek to support them from afar.
“Meeting people who came all the way from Canada to show support is empowering,” Mark said after the event. “These people are amazing and they really make a difference.”
Chantal Belzberg, CEO of OneFamily, said: It is an intensely bonding experience for all involved, “and the connections carry on long after they return home. The connection to the Land of Israel and its people is also a point of emphasis, also for those who have lost their loved ones in terror attacks. Israel has the highest importance for Jews who live abroad. This hike gives them an opportunity to understand the price paid by people who live here in order to safeguard this Jewish home of ours.”
Lat year, the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference Award went to One- Family co-founders Marc and Chantal Belzberg and their daughter Michal, who at 12 years old was the catalyst behind the founding of OneFamily.
When preparing for her bat mitzva in Jerusalem, a suicide bombing struck the crowded Sbarro restaurant in the city’s downtown, at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road, on August 9, 2001, the day of her 12th birthday. Fifteen people were murdered and 130 men, women and children were wounded. In the wake of that devastating attack, Michal canceled her bat mitzva party in order to donate the cost and gifts to victims of the attack.