"A Personal Israeli Voyage" – the Pain that Brings Families Together

A Personal Israeli Voyage is a joint initiative by KKL-JNF, the Yad LaBanim organization, and the Families, Commemoration and Heritage division at the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

The voyage started last week, with 300 participants - bereaved parents, sisters and brothers. The first part of the voyage took place through the trails of Israel, featuring sites of historical Jewish and Israeli importance. The second part was devoted to educational workshops and lectures given by the KKL-JNF guides.

The voyage is part of an emotional growth and development process, not just in the connection with Israeli heritage but also in the chance to strengthen personal and social connections that put together an infrastructure for social existence and dealing with bereavement in everyday life.

"We have tried to create a joint Israeli identity for ourselves, to develop the knowledge of the country and its landscapes, a feeling of belonging to the category of 'Israeli' while trying to figure out for ourselves the different elements of bereavement for each and every one of us, the meeting between our personal story and the larger Israeli story of the people in this country. We came from northern and southern Israel, from the east and the west, we met in a personal Israeli journey, we got to know each other and we went home wanting more," said one of the participants.

Sar Shalom Gerbi, Community and Education Division Manager at KKL-JNF: "I am proud and grateful for the collaboration with Yad LaBanim and the Ministry of Defense in making 'A Personal Israeli Voyage', which is held for the third year. Voyages for bereaved parents and siblings, who go together on a personal and group voyage to strengthen the love for the country, the Israeli identity and the Israeli identification with the bereavement that was forced on them. It is our duty, and the least we can do for the bereaved who sacrificed their loved ones for us."

Yad LaBanim Chairman, Eli Ben Shem: "Yad LaBanim thanks KKL-JNF, Sar Shalon Gerbi and the Community Division for many years of collaboration, especially in the current hard times. This collaboration provides relief for the bereaved families that we have chosen to take on a journey at the KKL-JNF sites in this challenging period, among them memorial sites for the fallen soldiers, to whom we owe our lives in Israel."