The taste of life

NGO OneFamily helps grieving parents come to terms with loss of a child.

April 14, 2015 02:18
3 minute read.
Nechama Rivlin (center) accepts a bouquet from author Dina Kit

Nechama Rivlin (center) accepts a bouquet from author Dina Kit. (photo credit: PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON OFFICE)

There are many ways to memorialize a child, but how he or she died is less relevant than the fact their parents rarely come to terms with their bereavement. Some who had sick children establish organizations to help children and families like their own. Some create scholarships in the name of a dead child for people studying the child’s favorite subject.

Dina and Omer Kit lost two sons: first Israel, who died from cancer at age 13, and eight years later, his younger brother, Ophir, a soldier in the Givati Brigade who was killed in 2001 trying to stop a Palestinian suicide bomber. It had been difficult for them to try to return to a normal lifestyle after Israel’s death. But after Ophir was killed, coping became much more difficult.

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The Kits realized they needed help and went to OneFamily for counseling.

OneFamily was established by Michal Belzberg, then 12 years old, and her parents, Marc and Chantal, following a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem pizza parlor in the summer of 2001, when 19 Israelis, seven of them children, were killed. Michal donated all her bat mitzva gifts to families of the victims, while her parents raised $100,000 from relatives and friends and OneFamily was born.

It has since supported thousands of people, conducting numerous activities to enable those who have suffered as a result of terrorism to regain their physical, emotional, and spiritual strength and to support each other.

Omer Kit asked OneFamily to give his wife something to do to occupy her mind. From being a volunteer, she soon became a staff member, initiating and organizing numerous projects.

One was a choir for bereaved fathers so that Omer could return to playing the piano as well as singing.

At home, Dina mechanically went about cooking, but her heart wasn’t in it. She noticed that she was no longer cooking her dead sons’ favorite foods. This bothered her, and it occurred to her that other mothers also found it painful to cook the favorite dishes of their departed children.

Dina came up with the idea of a Taste of Life cookbook, featuring mothers and fathers with the best-loved recipes of their deceased sons and daughters.

When she put the idea to Chantal Belzberg, the CEO of One- Family, Belzberg was initially hesitant, believing that it would be too traumatic an exercise and would cause too much needless grief. But she was persuaded after Dina got several cook-ins under way, bringing together bereaved mothers to cook as a group and talk about their children.

The result is an impressive book of 124 recipes for a huge variety of dishes that reflect Israel’s demographic melting pot. It was launched on Monday at the residence of President Reuven Rivlin by his wife, Nechama, who contributed an aubergine and tomato recipe of her own, one of her husband’s favorites.

The book also contains forewords by President Rivlin, who wrote of how moved he and his wife were to read it, and by former president Shimon Peres, who noted the significance of hanging on to life and commended OneFamily for what it does.

Alongside each recipe, the book features large photographs of the mothers and fathers with the foods their sons and daughters loved to eat, and a smaller photo of the son or daughter.

Elsewhere in the book, special pages are reserved for thumbnail biographies of the young men and women, boys and girls in whose memories this book was created.

There is nothing more nostalgic than the palate, and the parents who posed for photographs for the book were nearly all smiling as they remembered the pleasure on their children’s faces when their favorite recipes were served for dinner.

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