Reliving The Past To Make A Difference In The Future; Terror Victim Ms. Sarri Singer Boards Israeli Bus 9 Years After Bombing

PHOTOS: By Ms. Sarri Singer. Shortly after 9/11, I quit my job to volunteer in Israel with victims of terrorism. I arrived as an idealist, but on June 11, 2003 my idealism shifted and found focus, I survived a brutal terrorist attack. Coming that close to death revealed the fragility of life. The desire to overcome the trauma was powerful and I began to really live and experience every moment. I knew that I was spared in order to spread a message of strength, hope and unity.

On that day 9 years ago I was on Bus #14 in Jerusalem when an 18 year old Palestinian boarded and detonated injuring over 100 of us and murdering 16 innocent people including all those seated and standing around me. Even after 9 years, I am still witnessing the lifelong wounds and trauma that hundreds of peoplecontinue to experience as a result of this.

When I close my eyes I am brought back to the events of that day which I still remember so clearly. I remember boarding the bus and wishing there was an empty seat and finally finding one as we approached the next bus stop as someone was getting off in the front section of the bus. I remember thinking that I normally sit on the aisle seat but for some reason on that day decided to move in and sit next to the window – a decision that I now know saved my life. I remember the shockwave that hit my face as the explosion tore through the bus. I remember the silence that followed the blast – a silence of those dead in every seat around me. I remember the men that pulled me out of the bus and brought me to safety and the old woman who waited by my side when I was burned, bleeding and scared until help arrived. I will never forget the kindness and care I received from my friends and family and especially by strangers. This experience taught me how sacred life is and we must make the most of each moment we are here.

In May 2007, I founded Strength to Strength (formerly One Heart Global) to help support victims of terrorism globally by bringing them together to heal through therapeutic and recreational programs – survivors healing survivors. Strength to Strength (www.stosglobal.org) also focuses on educating the public about the unmet needs of victims of terrorism and their families.

On my way to Israel for vacation with my mother this summer, my first time back to Jerusalem in 5 years, I reflected on the past years. I have been to various countries around the world and back, bearing witness to the aftermath of terrorism. My thoughts as I arrived for an emotional four day stopover in London, were the events commemorating the senseless tragedy of the London bombings of July 7, 2005.

My time in London was extremely emotional and empowering. It was an opportunity to spend time with the survivors, be a support and let them know they are not alone. The memorial ceremony was extremely moving – hearing the stories of a number of those that survived and meeting individuals who I didn’t know before that day who suddenly became like family.

Part of what made my stay meaningful was the opportunity to share my story with the Hackney Shul of East London on Sunday morning as I departed to the airport for Israel. Sharing such a personal experience as I traveled back to the place where the attack happened, gave me the strength for what was to happen nine days later, at the end of my trip to Israel. It also gave me the opportunity to give a voice to victims by sharing my story which represents thousands of stories of victims all over the world.

I was grateful for the time there not only with the survivors but also with my cousin, Gili Brenner, Executive Director, StandWithUS UK and with 2 of Strength to Strength’s board members, Paulo Pimentel, Director, Brent Bereavement Services in London and Survivors of Terrorism, also the coordinator of the 7/7 Memorial Events for the victims and their families, and Maria Lozano of Spain, Director of the Network of Associations of Victims of Terrorism in Europe, both of whom work tirelessly in their home countries on behalf of victims of terrorism and their families.

As I stepped off the plane in Israel, I felt like I was coming home. During my trip, I encountered the resilience and courage of the people of Israel. In the last few hours before heading back to the airport, I found the nerve that had been building up for 9 years, to board a bus in Jerusalem, on the same route that I had been on that fateful day that changed my life. I wasn’t alone, I was with my mother, and some close friends, and I had the overwhelming sensation of being alive, that the terrorist didn’t accomplish the goal of destruction, carnage and death. Being greeted with the horrific news of the terrorist attack in Bulgaria the day after my bus trip was one reminder of many reminders that must serve as a clarion call for us all to be proactive in the fight against terrorism and the need to provide long term care and support for victims and their families. I am blessed that I am still here and I will continue to fight for our right to survive and thrive – for myself, and for all victims of terrorism around the world. TLS.

View video below of Ms. Singer speaking in Lakewood last year.

 
Sarri Singer is the Founder and Director of Strength to Strength, a non profit organization based in New York City established to bring survivors of terrorism and their families together globally to heal. For more information, please visit the website at www.stosglobal.org.
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Sarri,
    G-d has blessed you.

    Your stirring account of the incident is one that needs to be told to as many people as possible. Thank you for sharing it with me. As a non Jew, it helps me to better understand the everyday challenges faced by the courageous residents of Israel.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Sari, you are marvelous. Your faith in Hashem is to be admired. You are not any different then the people who rachmono nitzlon went through the holocoust and came out stronger in their belief in Hashem. It is emunah likev yours that will make Moshiach come in the very near future.
    Your family friend from way back- Lakewood.

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