For the 22 bereaved mothers who travelled to London last week with OneFamily, spending time with other mothers facing the same struggle allowed them to relax and let go in a way that’s difficult in their regular lives.
“We could let down our guard and not be the nurturing mothers, but be nurtured ourselves,” said Bracha Kupinsky, whose son Aryeh was killed in the brutal attack on a Har Nof synagogue in 2014.
“This past year I have given hugs and shown love to my family, and in the past few days I have received from OneFamily so much support and love that it will enable me to continue, to live on,” she said.
The purpose of the visit was to allow the mothers to recharge their batteries by getting a week away from the mental anguish of their everyday life. The group spent a week touring London, getting treated to a day at the spa and a night at the theater, meeting members of the OneFamily community, and telling the stories of the children they lost to terror.
The group included mothers whose children had fallen in Operation Defensive Edge or in terrorist attacks as far back as the Second Intifada. They were in different age groups and lived in different regions of Israel. What they had in common, however, was the unthinkable pain of losing a child and the need to for a break from their routine.
Batya Weinberg, a OneFamily Regional Coordinator who joined the group on the visit, said taking the mothers out of their norm allowed them to feel the joy they often deny themselves. “They had time to themselves, six days just for themselves,” she said. “They were in the spotlight, everyone catered to them.”
OneFamily CEO Chantal Belzberg said credit for the success of the visit belongs to the OneFamily UK committee. “I want to express profound gratitude to the UK Committee for planning the visit, hosting the bereaved mothers, wining and dining them, and for looking after them with so much love and so much care from the moment they arrived until the moment they left.
“I also need to give a huge thank you to the Norrice Lea community and particularly to Freda Kaplan for planning and hosting a fabulous Shabbat lunch in honor of the mothers and for dedication that really goes beyond words,” Chantal added, noting that 250 people came out to meet the mothers and hear their stories.
Bracha said she was particularly moved by the day at the spa, which included a full complement of masseuses, hair stylists, manicurists, pedicurists, and beauticians. “When our hostess said this was a day for us to be pampered, I suddenly could not hold back the tears,” she said.
The bonding experience of spending the week together also had a benefit that will continue to serve the mothers long after they return to Israel. The connections they build stay with them, forming an active support group whenever they need it.