Shiloh Center: Restoring Innocence after Terror

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SHILOH, Israel - Israelis living in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) face a daily threat of terror attacks. 

For those who have lived through such an experience, the trauma can cause memories that linger for years.

While the Judean and Samarian countryside is some of the most beautiful in Israel, living in the nation's biblical heartland can be dangerous and even deadly. A new therapy center in Shiloh is helping terror victims move forward with their lives. 

On January 19, Palestinian terrorists opened fire at a young couple driving to their home.

"A car overtook us and terrorists in the car started shooting at us," Sarah Avitan told CBN News.

While she survived the attack unharmed, her husband Moshe - the father of their five daughters - was shot in the head.

"He was blinded immediately and somehow he was able to stop the car without getting us hurt," Sarah recalled.

Don’t Leave Us!

"He told me he was dying, that he didn't have much time to live," she continued. "I shouted at him, 'You can't do this. You have to stay with us. You have five girls to raise!'"
 
That experience will stay with Sarah for the rest of her life. While she will never forget those terrifying moments, the new therapy center is helping her cope with the trauma.

"We're going to turn darkness into light and we're going to turn bitterness into sweetness," said David Rubin, whose Shiloh Israel Children's Fund is the main catalyst behind this project.

Click here for more information on Shiloh Center, or see contact information below.

Rubin could have been treated there himself. Seven years ago, terrorists ambushed his car, shot him in the leg and his 3-year-old son Ruby in the neck. Miraculously. Both survived.

After the ordeal, Rubin learned that at least five of his son's classmates had been severely traumatized by terror attacks that had afflicted the Shiloh community.     

"Either they were wounded themselves or they lost a sibling or a parent to terrorism," he said.

"It suddenly dawned on me - the light bulb went off - and I said we have to do something about these kids' psychological trauma. We have to have a center here that will deal with those issues," he said.

'We're Here to Stay'

Rubin and many others created the Shiloh Therapy Center, and are spurred on by the hope of defeating the terrorists' goal.        

"What they're really trying to do is inflict psychological trauma, to get everybody to run away from Israel's biblical heartland," Rubin said.

"And my response to that is no. We're going to do exactly the opposite.  We're going to stay. We're going to build for the future," he said.

Shiloh Therapy Center Director Tzippi Fisher said the children’s emotional healing is the greatest benefit.

"What's unique about this place is the emotional therapy we give for the many children affected in one way or another by terror attacks," Fisher said.

"We have many children who go through therapy, finish it and integrate in the normal educational system. That's the biggest joy for us," she said.

Horseback Riding Therapy

Therapeutic riding is one of the ways the staff works with the children. 

"Throughout the process of working with patients, we see how their confidence and self-esteem improves. When they learn to solve a difficult challenge with a horse, they can apply that lesson to life’s problems,” instructor Daniel Bin-Nun told us.

Rubin is encouraged by how the children’s lives have been restored.

"We touch the lives of hundreds of children we're treating. And we actually see that we're restoring some of the lost innocence of childhood," he said.

Nearly all of the staff has been directly affected by terror. 

Eleven years ago, terrorists murdered Daniel's brother. Eight years ago, Tzippi's sister-in-law was killed in a terror attack.

Having experienced terror in their own lives, they understand what people like Moshe and Sarah Avitan and their girls have been through.

Reaching Out

"It's getting used to a different lifestyle," Sarah explained. "I mean growing up in a house with a father who's blind. He can see a little bit, but legally, he's blind."

"They [the Center] called us and offered to help, which is very, very touching, very nice," she said.

Ironically, Moshe's construction company built the Shiloh Therapy Center. Now his daughters have begun therapy at the place their father’s company built.

"I hope that, first of all, they'll enjoy it and I also really hope it will help them. I believe it will," their mother said.

When terror strikes, it changes every family member, especially the children.
 
"Everyone is affected and everyone is traumatized and now we have to deal with that trauma. We have to help those children," Rubin said.

To learn more about how you can help the Shiloh Israel Children's Fund, visit their Web site, Shiloh Israel Children's Fund, or contact them at:

Shiloh Israel Children's Fund
P.O. Box 212
Suffern, N.Y. 10901
845-738-1522        

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