Anyone who followed December’s devastating fire that ravaged the Carmel Forest in Israel will recognize the image pictured here. The loss of life on the bus that was carrying new police recruits to the fire scene was immense. More than 40 men and women died in that inferno, all leaving behind families and loved ones to grieve. While several had wives, some even due to deliver babies in the coming months, not commonly publicized was that there were nine women and men who left behind either fiancÃ©es/fiancÃ©s or boyfriends/girlfriends.
We only learned of this in a recent conversation with Phyllis Heimowitz, co-founder of the Amuta for the Emotional Support of Girlfriends and FiancÃ©es of Fallen Soldiers of the IDF(www.girlfriendsidf.org.il/). Each of these recruits was classified as part of the military and as such, only wives and blood relatives are entitled to the support services supplied by the state. It is this inequity that Phyllis’ organization attempts to rectify by providing group therapy for those survivors who are considered "only" engaged to the deceased or "merely" a "boyfriend"/"girlfriend". (Her work began in 1997 when her own daughter lost her about-to-be fiance in a military action.)
As quiet has prevailed in Israel for so long, Phyllis never imagined that she would need to form a new group and have it fill up so quickly. To date five survivors of the fire catastrophe have requested help with several more going through the intake process. When Phyllis shared this tragedy she commented that when they first met with the survivors’ group "the pain in that room was palpable" as each shared their story.
After the fire was contained the Good People Fund searched long and hard to find a significant way to help those impacted by this terrible tragedy. Once again, Phyllis and the Amuta have provided us with a way to help – we invite anyone who wishes, to send a donation to us for this effort.