Bereaved Parents Comfort Family of Ezra Schwartz at OneFamily: “We Are All With You”
|Ruth Schwartz, Ari Schwartz, Nachum Lemkus, and Brenda Lemkus at the OneFamily Center in Jerusalem|
Coping with the loss of a child in a terrorist
attack is one of the loneliest experiences a parent can face. For Ari
and Ruth Schwartz, who lost their son Ezra in a terror shooting in
November, the isolation is intensified because the family
lives in America, far away from the support of other bereaved parents.
That’s why OneFamily Fund
which provides support to victims of terror, sponsored the family on a
visit to Israel and arranged for them to meet with other parents who
have lost children to
“The Schwartz family has the difficult task of
mourning the murder of their son, Ezra, all alone, in America,” said
OneFamily Chairman Marc Belzberg. “Today, at OneFamily, they benefitted
from the warm embrace, the shared experiences and
the heartfelt advice of many other Israeli parents who, like them, lost
a child to terror.”
Ari and Ruth participated in a support session with
members of bereaved families. Ruth shared her memories of Ezra, noting
that “everything was more fun when Ezra was around. His personality was
so big.” Ari asked the parents questions
that could only be directed to others who have shared the experience.
The group included BatGalim Shaer, the mother of
Gil-Ad Shaer, one of three teens who were kidnapped and murdered last
summer. The kidnapping took place in the same location as the shooting
that took Ezra’s life. During Ezra’s shiva, OneFamily
paid to fly BatGalim and her daughter to America to provide personal
Others included Nachum and Brenda Lemkus, whose
daughter Dalia was stabbed to death in 2014 in the same location where
Ezra Schwartz was killed and the three teens had been kidnapped and
murdered; Tirza Levy, mother of Rabbi Nechemia Lavi,
killed in the Old City of Jerusalem in October when he came to the aid
of other terror victims; Ronit and Ury Cherki, whose son Shalom was
killed in car ramming at a bus stop in April; Cheryl Mandel, whose son
Daniel was killed in combat at 2003.
The meeting also brought together Rivkah Moriah,
whose son Avraham David Moses, killed in the terror attack on the Mercaz
HaRav yeshiva in 2008; Pirhia and Yossi Apter, who lost their son Noam
in a terrorist attack on a yeshiva in Otniel
in 2002; and Penina and Simcha Malik, whose son Gedalia was killed
fighting in Jenin.
Sarah Rosenfeld, whose son Malachi was killed in a
drive-by shooting on his way home from a basketball game in July,
started the session by telling Ari and Ruth that the purpose of the
evening was to give them a big hug and “a gift from
our own lives.” And the evening ended with hugs all around.
The parents greeted Ari and Ruth with love and
support, shared their own bereavement stories, and spoke about their
journey of grieving and recovery. Most importantly, they let Ari and
Ruth know they are not alone.
“Losing a child, we are now different, “said Simcha
Malik. “But here (at OneFamily), we are normal. We have our own
language, our own society.”
Batgalim Shaer advised the couple to focus on their
four surviving children. “Remember what you do have,” she said, “not
only what you have lost.”
Brenda Lemkus warned against the feeling that
bereaved parents need to project an image of strength. “You don’t need
to be strong for anyone,” she said. “You only need to be strong for
Nachum Lemkus urged the family to carry on with
projects that their son would have wanted them to do. “Do it in his
name, no matter what it is.” Ari agreed, noting that the original
purpose of the visit was to help fix up the park in Gush
Etzion, as Ezra was doing at the time of his death.
Ronit Cherki urged the couple to respect their own feelings. “Trust yourself about what you need,” she advised.
Rivkah Moriah spoke about the benefits of
OneFamily’s youth camps over Chanukah, Passover, and in the summer for
the four remaining children in the Schwartz family. The camps, she said,
give the children a chance to enjoy themselves without
guilt. “There is no sense of betrayal having a good time among other
Simcha Malik told the couple that part of their
journey would be to progress past the point where other people feel they
need to give to them. “It’s the other way around,” he said.
OneFamily provides financial assistance,
therapeutic programs, legal assistance and a steady stream of personal
encouragement for each victim and their family. The organization’s
presence and resources ensure that victims and their families
never need to feel alone.
As some of you might recall, Ezra HY"D (May God Avenge his blood) graduated from my alma mater, Maimonides School
in Brookline, Mass. The defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots held a moment of silence
for Ezra during the shiva week. Ezra was a huge Patriots fan.
The story above was provided by OneFamily. I have mentioned OneFamily
on this blog several times in the past. The organization was started by friends of Mrs. Carl and me.
Labels: Maimonides, New England Patriots, One Family, terror victims