This week, tens of thousands of Israel-supporters gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC for the annual AIPAC policy conference.
One of the first-timer participants at this year’s conference, Rachelle Fraenkel, an educator from the Nishmat Center, found the experience and the energy of the massive gathering “unbelievable”.
Fraenkel is hardly new to the spotlight, addressing the UN Human Rights Council and becoming, according to the New York Times, “an international public figure”, following the murder of her son.
In 2014, the Fraenkels were one of three Israeli families thrust into the center of media attention after their sons were kidnapped by a gang of terrorists in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. For 18 days the three families – and much of the Israeli public and Israel’s supporters abroad – were left in suspense as the search for the kidnapped youths continued, only to end in tragedy when their remains were found.
Speaking with Arutz Sheva this week, Rachelle Fraenkel lauded the “unbelievable” energy and feelings of support she felt during the AIPAC conference, and how that support has been translated into aid and comfort for herself and other bereaved relatives of terror victims.
“Being in AIPAC is a first time for me, and it’s unbelievable. The kind of energy that is here and to understand how many people support Israel and connect to Israel and do so much.”
Fraenkel, whose son Naftali Fraenkel was one of the three Israeli youths who were kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists in June 2014, praised the OneFamily organization, which provides support for bereaved relatives of victims of terrorism.
“Orphaned children, and siblings…OneFamily is there for them with ‘Big Brother’ projects, counselling, with camps, with special events. There is something very normalizing about being with a group of peers where everybody has suffered a loss.”
OneFamily, Frankel went on to say, effectively translates the broad feelings of support for terror victims that many in Israel and the US feel into active assistance and care.
“I see Americans here who are unbelievable in their solidarity…they feel like they want to reach out and hug, and OneFamily does that hug for them. OneFamily is like the extended arms of all these people who care.”
“They don’t forget about you six months into the story, they’re there for years.”