By Eric Silver,
On August 9,
2001, a young man carrying a guitar case strolled into the
crowded Sbarro pizza parlour on the corner of Jerusalem's
Jaffa and King George roads, and blew himself up.
explosion killed 15 civilians, aged two to 62, and wounded
more than 100 others. One woman, five years on, is still in
a coma. Hamas and Islamic Jihad took responsibility.
changed the lives of Arnold Roth, an Australian immigrant
lawyer, and his wife Frimet - and through them those of
countless other Israelis. Their 15-year-old daughter, Malki,
the fourth of seven children, was one of the dead, along
with her best friend, Michal Raziel.
Malki was a
gifted flautist, a youth-movement madricha and an
enthusiastic volunteer, who worked with severely handicapped
children, starting with her own youngest sister, Haya
shivah, the parents decided they were not going to spend the
rest of their lives in mourning. They set up a charity to
help the families of disabled children cut through the red
tape and cope in their own homes. "We are there," Arnold
Roth told the JC, "to empower and enable."
Five years later,
Keren Malki (the
Malki Foundation) is subsidising 1,200 families from all
of Israel's diverse communities. About one-third are Arabs.
The fund's annual budget of £125,000 comes entirely from
"We decided to go
out and do something positive to remember the life that has
been taken from us," Mr Roth explained. "By doing that,
you're able to think of yourself as being very different
from those barbarians who brought hatred and destruction
into the world.
"There's no way
to neutralise that, but in your own life it's terribly
important to be able to say we're not like that at all.
We're not two sides of the same coin. We're coming from
completely different places and we're certainly going to
completely different places."
does not provide services. It pays 75 per cent of the bill
for a range of therapies, from occupational and physical
therapy to therapeutic horse-riding, demanding only that the
therapist is a registered professional and the receipts
valid. In partnership with the Yad Sarah social welfare
network, it supplies wheelchairs,
and other equipment.
"We're not in a
dialogue with the families," Mr Roth insisted. "We
discourage communication with them. We don't want them to
look at us as being involved in their lives. We say, you
make the decisions, we'll make them possible. You don't have
to go to a committee and plead your case. It means that we
can support a very large number of families, though we have
only one employee."
Since Israel went
to war with Hizbollah on July 12, the Roths have broken
their own rule. About 200 of their 1,200 client families
live in the north of Israel. Some have fled south, others
are living in shelters. They are calling for advice, and
Keren Malki is providing it.
One family moved
from Nahariya to Jerusalem, staying with a family they had
not known before. Their child, who suffers from cerebral
palsy, needed horseback therapy. Keren Malki found them a
local riding stable.
more isolating than being in a home that can be under a
missile attack at any moment," Mr Roth said. "But when
you're already predisposed to be upset at the world because
you've got a very disabled child and your neighbour doesn't,
it sets you off-balance. It creates tremendous anxieties.
You can't easily move to a different part of the country
with a disabled child. Those who do, need the kind of
flexibility we offer.
"We say, find the
best available therapist, then send us the receipt."