Touro College Alumna and Terrorism Survivor Speaks at Madrid Conference

Date: April 20, 2009
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Barbara Franklin
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New York, N.Y. - Sarri Singer, an alumna of Touro College, and a survivor of a terrorist attack in Israel in 2003, spoke recently at an international conference in Madrid for victims of terrorism. Sponsored by the European Union, “Voice of the Victims” coincided with the fifth anniversary of the bombing in Madrid that preceded Spain’s general elections and killed nearly 200 people and injured thousands more.

Ms. Singer, assistant director of career services at Touro College, and Jacob Kimchy, a colleague with whom she co-founded an organization to assist terrorist victims, were the only non-European survivors of a terror attack invited to speak at the March 11 conference.

The daughter of New Jersey State Senator Robert Singer, Ms. Singer spoke at the conference about June 11, 2003, a day she remembers all too clearly. On that day, she became a victim of terrorism perpetrated by Hamas on a Jerusalem bus.

“That day changed my life forever,” Ms. Singer said. Referring to her work with other terrorism survivors, she explained: “It is now five years later, and I am still witnessing the lifelong wounds and trauma that hundreds of people continue to experience as a result of terrorism.”

She also strives, in her work counseling students at Touro, to make sure that they make the correct choices for themselves. “They should be doing something they love,” she said, explaining that her experience in Israel spurred her to reprioritize how she spends her own time.

Ms. Singer vividly recalls the day when she boarded the bus and it moved to the next stop. She saw two empty seats in the front section and decided to sit down; however, instead of taking the aisle seat, she moved next to the window, a choice she said probably saved her life.

“I remember the sounds of crushing metal and feeling the shockwaves as the explosion tore through the bus. I remember immediately shutting my eyes, an instinct that saved my sight. And then there was a moment of eerie silence that followed the blast - a silence so frightening, silence of those who were dead in every seat around me.”

Despite the fact that Ms. Singer suffered severe injuries, Ms. Singer considers herself lucky.

“The experience taught me how sacred life is,” she said. “Sixteen innocent people were murdered that day and more than 100 people injured.”

Ms. Singer has been counseling students at Lander College for Women/The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School and Lander College of Arts & Sciences – Flatbush for two years. Prior to joining Touro, she worked in the not-for-profit sector, including as an intern for former New York State Senator Daniel Moynihan when she herself was a Touro student. She said she finds her current job rewarding and important, and just as she makes greater efforts since her experience in Israel to spend time doing the things that are most important to her, when counseling students she tries to get that message across to others.

“I want to make sure the students are really entering a field they want to be in because life is so short,” says Ms. Singer. “You want to make sure you’re doing something you love, something that has meaning to you and something that will make a positive impact on others.”

As a result of her experience, Ms. Singer, together with Mr. Kimchy, co-founded One Heart Global (, in memory of Mr. Kimchy’s father, Rami Kimchy, who was murdered by a Hamas suicide bomber in Rishon Letzion, Israel, on May 7, 2002.

One Heart Global’s purpose is to bring survivors of terrorism together from all over the world to help heal one another. The organization also helps children who have lost parents to acts of terrorism, and educates the public about victims of terrorism.

Ms. Singer said she is often asked if, as a survivor of such a horrific experience, she feels hatred towards the perpetrators or a desire for revenge.

“I will not let this experience destroy me or drive me to do the terrible things that the need for revenge does to a person. I try to live my life showing kindness to others as others have shown kindness to me,” she said, adding it is important not to be afraid. “Terrorism doesn’t discriminate – it can happen anywhere and at anytime. We all have an obligation to show that we are not going to stand by while we let those who have little value for human life instill fear in us. That is what terrorists want to do – make us afraid. We need to show our families, our friends, and our communities that we are strong and that together we can make the greatest difference.”