• Tamar Amar-Polak, 28, was once a recipient of Jewish Agency services for victims of terror.

    Tamar Amar-Polak, 28, was once a recipient of Jewish Agency services for victims of terror.

    , The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel's Fund for Victims of Terror

    The Jewish Agency for Israel's Fund for Victims of Terror

    , The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
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From Victim to Healer

Tamar Amar-Polak, 28, was once a recipient of Jewish Agency services for victims of terror. Now, she provides much-needed therapies for others who need it in southern Israel.

“I was born and raised in Sderot, which has been under rocket attack from Gaza for more than a decade. It’s an interesting life we have here, a frightening one, with routines built around dealing with a complex situation.

I remember the first Kassam. I had just graduated from high school and was working at a supermarket in Sderot.  The air-raid siren didn’t go off, and the Kassam fell on a car right in the parking lot. It was terrifying. And from then on, we got used to the reality that rockets fall on our city, and we got used to the air raid sirens that warned us that a Kassam was coming.

It was a sort of strange normalcy, until December 2007. It was a Thursday at 4 pm. I was arranging to go away for the weekend with a friend, and the air-raid siren went off. We all – me, my parents, and my sister – ran to the hallway, which was our designated safe spot in our home, and suddenly a Kassam fell on our house, and the house collapsed. The roof literally fell down on us.

It took a while for us to climb out of the wreckage. My mother was already disabled before and hadn’t made it to the hall. Luckily my brother had been out serving in the army, and my other sister had been out in her youth club. But now we had no home. For more than a year we lived in hotels.

Our lives changed completely when the Kassam fell on our house. Our old problems seemed smaller, but our fears grew, and suddenly this safe place we’d called home was gone, and we had to start all over again. Seeing your parents suffer, and your whole family going on anti-anxiety medications is very hard. Even after two IDF Operations in Gaza, the sirens still go off, and every time it brings us back to the moment a Kassam hit our house. Thank God, none of us were seriously injured, and we’re healthy of body, if not of mind. It’s important not to give up on normalcies in an abnormal time.

When we were living in the hotels, we qualified for a certain amount of government assistance, but The Jewish Agency came through for us with an extra gift that changed my life. Their Fund for the Victims of Terror helped me pay for Elbaum treatments – it’s an alternative therapy. It was so helpful, I decided to learn how to become an Elbaum therapist myself, and studied the method for four years – with tuition assistance from The Jewish Agency.

I’m now married and have two children, ages 3 and 2. Two years ago we moved to Ashkelon, which is also in easy range of rockets from Gaza. Last year, I started studying in a BA program in special education and psychology, so that I can expand the range of ways that I help people. Once again, The Jewish Agency helped with an academic scholarship.

I’m proud to be “giving back” as an Elbaum therapist.  I work with children and adults who have learning disabilities or difficulty functioning. I specialize in psychodrama.

Now the IDF is engaged in Operation Protective Edge. My husband has been called up for reserve duty, and I’m home with my children. It’s hard to know how to tell your 3-year-old what’s happening and where his father is. But I’m determined that years from now, I’ll be able to tell another story: how we lived, and how we succeeded in raising children in this situation.”

10 Jul 2014 / 12 Tamuz 5774 0
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