The Welfare and Social Services Ministry is reaching out Sunday to thousands of families left bereaved by the country's traffic accidents, by launching a campaign entitled "Returning to the Road of Life," aimed at making them aware of the services and professional assistance available to them.
Aimed to coincide with the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which takes place annually on the third Sunday of November, the ministry's goal is to highlight the three centers in Tel Aviv, Karmiel and Beersheba that opened in June to assist such families.
"Death as a result of a traffic accident leaves families with a tragic loss," Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said in a statement.
"We need to continue our fight to reduce traffic fatalities; while at the same time giving the families as much assistance as possible. Such a tragedy can haunt families for the rest of their lives," he said.
Simona Steinmetz, the national supervisor for the Traffic Accidents Law at the ministry, told The Jerusalem Post Friday that while support groups for bereaved families have been operating for some time, feedback from the field indicated that people also needed individual assistance from social workers to get their lives back on track after such a tragedy.
"We are working under a 2002 law for victims of traffic accidents," she explained. "This law was created because families expressed the need for help after losing a loved one."
Steinmetz continued: "It's not that we think the families can't cope alone, but our goal is to help them to return to a full life."
She estimated that thousands of people could be eligible for assistance from the service and said there was no limit on how long ago the families were left bereaved.
"Currently we can provide services to roughly 100 people at each center but we can give private assistance to many more people, there are no restrictions," said Steinmetz, adding, "We have not yet reached the limits of our budget."
She said that those who did not live near the three centers could also receive help from a specially appointed local social worker.
The ministry's figures indicate that since the start of 2009, 298 people have lost their lives on Israel's roads, compared to 371 in 2008. Steinmetz said that her data lists 30,460 people who have died on the roads since the founding of the state.
While the services are currently provided only in Hebrew, Steinmetz said that if there was enough demand they could easily be given in English, Russian or Amharic.
"We are also working on providing support groups and services in Arabic," she highlighted, adding that attempts to create such a group in the past had failed.
"We are hopeful that the current campaign will raise awareness," she said.
The ministry's campaign will include advertisements for the new centers and services on local radio, newspapers and on the Internet. Information about the centers and their services can be found at www.molsa.gov.il.
The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims was first celebrated nationally by RoadPeace in 1993. Since then it has been observed and promoted worldwide by both non-governmental organization and government authorities.