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Israeli woman visits Baltimore to share story of survival, overcoming trauma caused by attacks and war

Israeli woman visits Baltimore to share story of survival, overcoming trauma caused by attacks and w
Israeli woman visits Baltimore to share story of survival, overcoming trauma caused by attacks and w 03:06

BALTIMORE - When Hamas attacked Israel was a day many people around the world will never forget. 

Stories of survival and healing are a few things that give hope to those who are impacted by the devastation and the war that followed.

An Israeli woman shared with WJZ, and in person to a group at Baltimore's Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom, her story of survival and how a treatment facility in Israel helped her navigate PTSD and grief by using equine therapy. 

Ifat Haimovitz Twilly, who lives in Kibbutz Re'im, very close to the Gaza border, hopes her experience will inspire others who have experienced trauma. 

"I live in Kibbutz Re'im, very close to the Gaza border, and in the last 20 years and more, we have occasional wars and missile attacks. It had become our routine."

The words Twilly wears on her chest, and over her heart, mean a lot more. 

It's a reminder of what happened to her home on October 7, 2023.

"What happened on October 7 was not expected at all," Twilly said.

It was the day Twilly and her daughter spent 29 hours in a fortified safety room a few miles from the Gaza strip without food or water.

They later learned this would be war neither of them could have ever imagined.

"There were shootings and they murdered people in our community, and I do not even want to start to talk about what happened with women," Twilly said.

After evacuations, thoughts of 'what if' ran through her mind. 

"What if my daughter were out there? What if I was out there?" Twilly said. "What would have happened if someone decided to come inside of my house, because they came into my neighbor's house." 

She knew she needed help. 

"So in order to stop those thoughts, I thought it would be good for me to do something that requires concentration in something else," Twilly said.

She found that concentration at the Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center, a treatment facility in Israel that uses equine therapy and more to treat children and adults with special needs and who've experienced trauma. 


"My mind had to be all in, nothing else," Twilly said. "It was good for me because I could think about other things than what's been built in my head lately." 

"It's not like in a hospital when you're with a psychologist, that you're in a white room and you have to talk about all the things that you were experiencing, but you're also being told something new," said Eva Lange, the Resource Development Director at Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center.

For Twilly, it was an experience of war and trauma turned into a story of healing that she is now sharing around the country, including at Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom in Baltimore.

"Just go and do it because there's nothing that makes you stronger and firmer than sitting on a horse," Twilly said. 

"We treat around 12 to 20 people from the border with Lebanon and Gaza a day. We have over 200 riders a week," Lange said. 

"Never again is now so to be able to have someone like you Ifat who miraculously survived to be able to tell us her story is so very, very important," Rabbi Rachel Sabath, from Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom. "We need to continue to tell their stories, and when this war ends, how we understand it will be shaped by the stories that we hear from the survivors."

While the war in Israel continues, there are stories of survival, hope and remembrance.

To learn more or to help the Jewish National Fund-USA's Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center, you can visit their website here:

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