Mandell Family 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy of the Mandell family)
Thursday is Koby’s yahrtzeit, the 10th anniversary of his brutal murder near our
home in Tekoa.
On the 15th of Iyar, May 8, 2001, he and his friend Yosef
Ishran, two eighth-grade boys exploring the pristine canyon that abuts our small
community, were stoned to death by Arab terrorists. They were the 62nd and 63rd
casualties of the intifada. There have been more than 1,300.
When we sat
at the shiva, I remember people saying things like: “This will make the asimon
drop. People in the US will finally understand what we’re up against
For some people it did. There are people who have told me that
they made aliya as a reaction to what happened to Koby. Stand With Us, a
pro-Israel campus organization, started when the founders heard about Koby and
Yosef’s murder and decided they had to do something to help Israel.
moving of all, at least two families, one I didn’t know, named their sons after
And many people tell us: “I remember where I was when I heard the
news. I still think about it.”
SINCE KOBY’S murder, my wife Sherri and I
have been transported to a different level of influence. Of course, Sherri was a
writer and I was a rabbi and Jewish educator before, but the attention and
recognition we received after the murder changed everything.
been given four or five awards for her writing. We’ve received humanitarian
awards for the work of The Koby Mandell Foundation, we’ve appeared on national
TV in Israel, the US, Europe and the Far East, spoken to literally thousands of
people from second-graders in Philadelphia to US senators and ministers in
Israel, and had the pleasure of hanging out with the comics who come to Israel
to perform in Comedy for Koby.
The programs of The Koby Mandell
Foundation have helped thousands of bereaved children and mothers to feel better
about themselves and about their lives. There is no cure for losing a beloved
family member to terror or tragedy, the hole in the heart stays there forever,
but there are steps toward healing, and the fun, creative therapy and social
support participants receive from our programs encourage bereaved families to
Our next task is to take our healing initiatives to new
levels: to people bereaved by tragedies other than terror and to those outside
of Israel who have lost family members in tragic circumstances. This July we are
planning a new initiative for Englishspeaking bereaved parents from here and
from North America. The Israel Healing Tour is based on the experience The Koby
Mandell Foundation has gained from its work with bereaved families, couples and
It is scheduled to offer a combination of creative arts
therapies, supportive group discussions and a fun and meaningful touring of
Israel. We are proud that Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, PhD – executive vice
president emeritus of the Orthodox Union, one of America’s most respected rabbis
and a veteran psychologist – is helping us formulate the programming and will be
leading daily group discussions, lecturing and serving as our spiritual guide
for the tour.
HAD KOBY lived, he’d be 23 years old now. He would have had
friends that he laughed and cried with, and in time a profession and a family.
He would have contributed to society and touched in an ordinary way thousands of
people’s lives. But Koby’s power was stolen from the world. All the good that he
would have done. All the laughter he would have made. All the love he would have
In some small way, our work had been to replace that lost
potential; to keep our son’s power working in the world.
May the merit
for the work of the Koby Mandell Foundation – the laughter of the children of
Camp Koby, the emotional breakthroughs made possible by healing support of
bereaved mothers, the personal growth of American high school kids serving as
Camp Koby counselors – go to Koby’s soul so that it will continue to shine
brighter and light up the darkness left by his absence.The writer is the
co-founder and director of the Koby Mandell Foundation, which helps families of
victims of terror. www.kobymandell.org