The days leading up to Passover are particularly hard for victims of terror. Families across the country gather together to prepare for seder, and the memories of loved ones lost to terror are particularly strong.
For bereaved children, the experience can be especially difficult. That’s why the OneFamily Passover Camp is so important. The camp is designed to help children process their feelings of loss together with other bereaved children in a setting that is designed to be fun, therapeutic, and flowing with love and understanding.
This year, 150 children ages 8-18, along with 40 volunteers and 15 staff members joined together for two days in the Western Galil during the week before Passover. For the children, the experience is a breath of fresh air, both because of the beautiful weather and because they feel a sense of freedom they rarely experience outside of events organized by OneFamily.
OneFamily’s camps, held at Passover, Chanukah, and summer vacation, are the culmination of the work done by the Youth Division throughout the year. The activities are facilitated by the counselors that work with the children all year round – on their birthdays, the anniversaries of their lost family, and through regular visits. So the children already feel comfortable with the staff and know that they are in a safe environment.
“The children know that at OneFamily’s camp, the activities will be fun and that they will be able to talk about what they are feeling,” said Yitzhak Fried, Coordinator of the Youth Division. “We have the fun things they expect from camp, but we also have a psychologist talking with them about how they feel going through a holiday like Passover with a strong sense of loss, or discussing the different ways they cope throughout the year.”
The camp also provides an opportunity for the children to meet up with their friends from OneFamily who they don’t get to see as often as they like. So much of the healing takes place during the time the bereaved children spend with other children going through the same experiences.
This year, the children welcomed 10 new members participating in the camp for the first time. These were the bereaved children who lost family members during the recent wave of terror. He noticed that the “seniors” – those who have been to a number of OneFamily camps made an effort to bring the new children in the family and encouraged them to talk about their experiences.
Yitzhak said the experience for the new campers varied from child to child. “Some participated right away, others needed some time to feel at home. It’s a process for everyone,” he said. “Some of them don’t fully realize that they are victims of terror. It takes time to accept it and even longer to start to speak about it.”