In the aftermath of terror, a passion for helping others

Sarri Singer founded Strength to Strength to aid others who experienced terror firsthand

June 24, 2013
Sarri Singer, left, the assistant director of career services for Lander College for Women, with Chagit, the Hadassah Hospital nurse who cared for her 10 years ago in the aftermath of a terror attack.
Sarri Singer, left, the assistant director of career services for Lander College for Women, with Chagit, the Hadassah Hospital nurse who cared for her 10 years ago in the aftermath of a terror attack.

Who better to understand the fears and needs of someone who has experienced those very things first hand? Singer, the survivor of a Jerusalem bus bombing, has spent much of her time — both before and since that life-altering event — assisting those who have first-hand experience with terror.

The assistant director of career services at Lander College for Women-The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School (LCW), Singer recently visited Jerusalem to mark the 10th anniversary this June 11, the first time she has commemorated it in Israel.

“What’s important to me is speaking about my experience,” says Singer, a graduate of LCW. “It’s a way of empowering myself through it. Seeing others get involved is a big part of my recovery.”

At the time of the attack, Singer had been living in Israel, volunteering with groups that worked with victims of terror. It was something she felt compelled to do after Sept. 11, 2001. She had been working for the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, its office located just two blocks from the World Trade Center. When the office reopened months later, she knew she wanted to be in Israel, where terror had an immediate and ongoing impact, and where she felt she could make a difference.

She had been in Israel — a place that she felt understood terror in a fundamental way —  a year and a half when the bus bombing occurred. She was traveling on the city’s number 14 bus, when an 18-year-old Palestinian terrorist, dressed as a pious Jew boarded and detonated the bomb he was wearing. The explosion killed 16 innocents, and injured more than 100 others, Singer among them. She was pulled, burned and bleeding, from the twisted bus wreckage. Pierced by shrapnel and deafened by the blast which had punctured both her ear drums, Singer came home to Lakewood, N.J. to recover. When she did, she was more determined than ever to find ways to help victims of terror, among which she now numbered.

Singer, the daughter of New Jersey State Sen. Robert Singer, is better connected than many terror victims. In the aftermath of the attack, she spoke with politicians and testified before Congress about the impact of terror on the people who experience it. In 2012, she founded Strength to Strength (www.stosglobal.org), an organization that would bring terror victims of all nationalities together and provide support and assist them with psychological services and to help move their lives forward.

Prior to heading to Israel, Singer oversaw the organizations Young Ambassadors Program for young terror victims ages 14-20 in New York from May 30-June 6. Participants and staff who are also victims of terror hail from Algeria, Argentina, England, Ireland, Israel and Spain and the United States. Then she’s off to London to speak about her experience at the Western Marble Arch Synagogue, and finally to Jerusalem, where she plans to connect with the nurses and medical professionals who cared for her after the attack at Hadassah-Ein Kerem Hospital and with some of the other survivors and surviving family members from the attack.

In her eyes, her work at the college that she feels gave her so much isn’t that different than what she does for victims of terror. “I assist the students in not only finding a career, but in giving them the tools to make the right choices, to do what they are passionate about.” 

 

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