The fun experienced by victims of terror and their families at the recent third annual Dragon Boat Israel Festival is an example of the great work done by OneFamily on their behalf.

Close to 700 unlikely athletes gathered recently in Tiberias for the third annual Dragon Boat Israel Festival. As intended, the festival has been very successful in both introducing the sport of dragon boat racing to Israel and promoting tourism to the north. What’s more, the team-focused affair supports several Israeli charities and fosters cultural awareness.

For the third straight year, OneFamily, Israel’s only national organization solely dedicated to the rehabilitation of victims of terror attacks and their families, assembled a team of 21, composed almost exclusively of terror victims. With 20 people in the boat plus one drummer, ages ranging from 35 to 60, Team OneFamily had the broadest age demographic.

“The key to dragon boat racing is figuring out how to keep 21 team members – all in one boat – in sync,” said Batia Weinberg, the organization’s Northern coordinator .

“This event was about empowering the terror victims. It deepened the connection between all the couples enabling the group to form a tight bond of support and understanding.”

“It was just so much fun.  We had to figure how to paddle together and we were continually helping each other,” enthused a team member. “We bonded quickly over the retreat and immediately started a Whatsapp group after Shabbat [Sabbath] so we could stay in touch.”

Thanks to a stunning group effort, Team OneFamily placed 2nd and 3rd in consecutive races.

Following the event, the team enjoyed a relaxing weekend retreat in Tiberias at the Leonardo Hotel.

“For many of these couples this is the first time in years they get to have a real break. This retreat is not only a place for them to heal but to actually relax,” said Mindee Levinger, the organization’s Jerusalem coordinator.

“Everyone has different experiences and background, but one of the most important things we can do to help in the emotional rehabilitation of terror victims, particularly [concerning] those who have been injured, is to give them a sense of normalcy. Sporting events like these, where survivors can feel like just another member of the team, are crucial to their recovery.”

OneFamily offers a number of sports opportunities to create positive and uplifting connections between victims, the bereaved and supporters, including a soccer team and a contingent running in marathons and triathlons.

Author: United with Israel Staff