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Seeds of Inspiration from Israel

By Molly Livingstone. Published at the Israel Forever Foundation 

Phyllis Heimowitz was born in New York. For nine years she taught in underprivileged areas in the Bronx. She moved to Israel with her husband and son a year after the Six-Day War. In Israel she had two more daughters, Tamar and Michal. Together with her daughter Tamar, she founded "The Non-Profit Organization for the Emotional Support of Fiancees of Fallen Soldiers of the IDF" in 1997. This organization is unique in the world and in Israel, providing psychological help to bereaved fiancees and fiances of fallen soldiers. These young bereaved people are given free psychological help in the framework of Support Groups and individual therapy.

Where do I get my inspiration from?

In 1997, an incredible tragedy hit our daughter and our entire family. Our beautiful, gentle daughter Michal, age 22, was to be married in 4 months to Lt. Avi Book, also age 22. They knew each other since the first grade, grew up, fell in love. There could be no finer person than Avi. He loved his family, the Land of Israel, and oh, how he loved his Michali.

Avi was the commander of a group of young soldiers whom he had trained (and he was only 22!). Their mission in Lebanon was to protect the northern border by preventing terrorists from infiltrating Israel. In 1997, Hezbollah mortars hit the base where Avi and his soldiers were serving. Avi, dear, pure wonderful Avi, ran to see that his soldiers were ok and in position. A mortar fell right next to him, killing him on the spot. 

Deep, horrible, indescribable tragedy fell on Michali who was to be a bride in just 4 months, and indeed on all of us. After the most painful shivah, Michali sat on the couch in our living room and whispered in pain: "Save me. I can't save myself.” Those were such powerful words. My mother was listening, heartbroken, in Heaven. She reminded me of what she had taught us by her example. 

The next day, I and Michal's older sister who was just 24 and had just become a lawyer, set out to the Ministry of Defense. Our goal: To establish Support Groups for these young unmarried women. No one cared about them. Widows were well taken care of by the Ministry of Defense, but these "widows without a ring" were totally neglected. 

This story of the establishment of the "Non-Profit Organization for the Emotional Support of Fiancees of Fallen Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces" is a story that has in many ways changed the history of the State of Israel.