An Israeli man stricken by terror has made it his life mission to help victims and their families. It is a story of triumph over the darkest forces of evil.
As the terrible attacks of 9/11 are remembered and mourned, we selected to focus on the story of one terror victim from Israel who, by continuing a legacy of mutual support and giving, chose not to succumb to terror.
In 2002, Rami Kimchy, 57, a taxi driver, entered a club in his hometown of Rishon Letzion, near Tel Aviv, to pick up a client. Within minutes, an 18-year-old Hamas suicide bomber entered after him and blew himself up, killing Rami and 14 others instantly. His son, Jacob, was one of the first to arrive at the scene, in hopes of helping survivors, only to recognize his father’s car parked in front and to quickly realize the dreadful fact that his father had been murdered.
Jacob remembers the fateful phone call vividly. “Where are you!” screamed a friend who worked for Israeli Intelligence. “There’s been a terrorist attack! Where are you?” I immediately called my father. But there was no answer. I went straight to the scene of the bombing.”
“When I finally pushed past the police and into the café, I witnessed what can only be called “the devil’s playground. Arms and legs and blood and heads and flesh and more and more blood. The only part of my father’s body that was ever recovered was a small metal piece of his prosthetic leg,” Jacob recalls.
Overcoming Loss and Tragedy
“For many months after the murder, I could find no way forward. What was this life? What kind of a God would allow something like this to happen to a kind, sweet man who had never hurt anyone? I was lost. I found myself driving at night as fast as I could, up to 100 miles per hour at times, music blaring, screaming and crying.”
Jacob was sure he would never be able to overcome the loss and tragedy. But he did. After attending a support group for young people who had lost their parents, at the request of his mother, Jacob found his path.
Despite the psychological and emotional damage wrought by direct exposure to an act of terrorism, Jacob channeled his unimaginable sorrow into the cause of a lifetime. After many months of indescribable agony, he slowly came to the realization that one way to carry on living with such unimaginable pain is by reaching out to other victims of terror. In time, this coping mechanism would flower into a mission.
Countless People with Powerful, Unforgettable Stories
He saw clearly what he needed to do and made it his life’s mission to help victims of terrorism—the children, brothers, sisters and parents who carry the trauma of terrorism with them throughout life. Through his non-profit One Heart—focused on that mission and established in 2006 in memory of his father—Jacob has brought hundreds of children and adults together from around the world for Survivors’ Circles and summer camps. He is also an active speaker on the subject of surviving trauma and terrorism and has spoken at international conferences and in front of a vast array of audiences, including heads of state, governors, members of parliament and mayors.
“I have met countless people with powerful and unforgettable stories, each of whom gave me a piece of their strength to persevere in the name of justice and life. Through my own journey, I have learned that to be a victim of terrorism is to live every day with pain, longing and loss. It is never over. But I have also learned there is a light for each of us to step into, no matter what,” says Jacob, now 37. “Each person can find a new sunrise, but sometimes we need help to get there. My mission in life is to be that help for as many people as I can. That is my father’s legacy.”
Jacob is embarking on the next phase of his mission to bring a dose of healing to the long-suffering. He is writing a book in memory of his father, titled A New Sunrise. The book, for which he is raising funds to self-publish, details Jacob’s journey from surviving the loss and trauma of terrorism to creating a life of strength and purpose by helping others, giving them courage to find a new path in life.
Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel