Forgiveness key for survivor of terror attack
Ex-Winnipegger visits city to tell her 'born lucky' story
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/11/2019 (1012 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Twenty-two years ago, while recuperating from a terrorist attack in Israel, Dr. Sherri Wise knew she had a decision to make: let the attack hold her back or find a way to move forward and make a difference in the world.
The former Winnipegger chose the latter, becoming a successful dentist and dedicating herself to helping victims of terrorism in this country through the Canadian Coalition Against Terrorism.
“When something traumatic happens, you have two choices,” she said from her home in Vancouver. “Let it define you and prevent you from living your life or choose to move forward. I chose to move forward.”
Wise will speak at a presentation sponsored by Women’s Philanthropy, part of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The title of the event is Survival and Forgiveness: A Story of Optimism and Hope. Admission is free, but registration is required.
Wise, 49, was volunteering as a dentist in Israel for three weeks in 1997. On her last day, she was at a café in Jerusalem when three Hamas suicide bombers attacked. Five people were killed and 190 were injured, including Wise.
Riddled with shrapnel and with burns to 40 per cent of her body, Wise spent two weeks in a Jerusalem hospital before coming to Winnipeg to stay with her parents for three months of recovery. After returning home to Vancouver, she dedicated herself to supporting the coalition, working with them to help create the 2012 Justice for Victims of Terrorism bill.
Wise used it to file a lawsuit against the government of Iran in 2014, accusing it of supplying Hamas with weapons, training and money to facilitate terror attacks, such as the one she was injured in.
“I don’t expect to win any compensation,” she said, noting it’s a “small victory” just to have the ability to file the lawsuit.
In addition to her work with the coalition, Wise said forgiving her attackers also helped her move forward.
“The bombers were victims as well,” she said. “They were taught to hate Jews. They were born innocent and taught to hate.”
Not feeling anger toward them “helped me move on,” Wise said.
Wise said she’s not a religious person but enjoys celebrating Jewish holy days, going to synagogue and maintaining a Jewish home.
Of God, she said she “believes there is a purpose to life” and the bombing “was something I was meant to survive.” Beyond that, it’s “a mystery,” she said.
Wise said she hopes those who come to hear her story — “Born lucky: How surviving a triple suicide bombing changed my life” — will come away “inspired for what they can do with their lives.”
Although her experience is unique, the decision she made to go forward “goes for anyone who has had trauma in life… every person has a choice to make every single day.”
For Laura Diamond, co-chairwoman of Women’s Philanthropy, Wise’s presentation is a way for people to be inspired and also become aware of the organization, which is part of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.
Their goal is tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of showing kindness and “fixing the world,” she said, noting the organization operates programs for women, newcomers and other projects.
Women’s Philanthropy also raises money each year for the Combined Jewish Appeal to support various programs in the Jewish community. The funds raised through the campaign, which runs until the end of December, will be used for community programs and services such as education, culture, seniors, youth, families and other needs, said Barry McArton, chairman of the Combined Jewish Appeal.
McArton said of the $4 million raised toward the $6-million goal, $1.3 million has come from the organization.
To register for Wise’s presentation, call 204-477-7400 or visit jewishwinnipeg.org and check under “events.”
Updated on Friday, November 8, 2019 1:34 PM CST: Corrects Barry McArton's name.
Updated on Friday, November 8, 2019 1:36 PM CST: Fixes typo