From sorrow to peace

London mom to run in TA marathon to support fellow bereaved families.

j'lem marathon, at jaffa gate_370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
j'lem marathon, at jaffa gate_370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
It has been nearly five years since Racheli Wolfson lost her 15-year-old daughter, Rikki, in a freak accident near her London home, but only on Friday, when she plans to run the Tel Aviv marathon, will the 55- year-old finally find solace.
“I am thrilled to be here,” the trained homeopath, who arrived in Israel earlier this week, told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday. “Of course I wish the circumstances were different but I am still thrilled to be able to do this.”
In addition to running in the 10 km. portion of Friday’s race, the London-based Wolfson, who spends significant amounts of time in Israel, will be raising funds for the Parents Circle Family Forum, a charity that provides support and programs for bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families together.
“It is all very, very personal and not just because of my connection to Rikki but also because I feel connected to the charity too,” stated Wolfson, who has already raised close to NIS 30,000 via her online fundraising page.
Wolfson was in Israel five years ago when her daughter died. Rikki had been climbing a very large tree near her family’s North London home, when, according to the coroner’s report, she stepped on a fragile branch and fell tragically to her death.
“People asked me afterwards why she was still climbing trees at the age of 15 but she was very bright and very physical, it was a unique combination,” said Wolfson, who has four other children.
Since the tragedy, Wolfson has been looking for a way to come to terms with her loss and deal with her grief by supporting an activity or a charity in Rikki’s name.
“I wanted to do something in her memory but I could not find anything,” she explained, adding, however, that last October she decided to try her hand at running and not long afterwards attended a talk at her local synagogue with representatives from the Parents Circle.
“I went to hear them speak and shortly afterwards I received an email about the marathon and it just all came together; I will run in the marathon and raise money for the family forum, all in Rikki’s name,” said Wolfson.
While she recognizes that losing her daughter might not be exactly the same as Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones due to the ongoing conflict in the region, Wolfson maintains that “at the same time, the loss and the repercussions are the same.”
In London, explained Wolfson, there is little support from other bereaved parents because it is uncommon for families to lose a child, but thanks to the Parents Circle and its members, she has found kindred spirits that sadly share her sorrow.
“I know my daughter died in an accident and it is quite different, but the upshot is that what you go through emotionally is exactly the same,” she said, adding that the charity’s work in bringing Israeli and Palestinian families together for reconciliation offers added meaning.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to support this and I know it is something that my daughter would have supported too,” said Wolfson.
Robi Damelin, public relations officer for the Parents Circle and herself a bereaved mother, said that Wolfson’s efforts were an “incredible gesture and I am happy she has found a way to express her grief.”
“We do not take it for granted that people who do not live in Israel will identify with what we are doing,” she said, adding that funds raised by Wolfson this week would go towards the charity’s educational projects for Israeli and Palestinian children.