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Sherri Mandell is an Israeli author, a mother and activist. She is best known as the mother of Koby Mandell, a thirteen-year-old American boy who was murdered near their home in the West Bank in May 2001. Mandell and her husband, Rabbi Seth Mandell, founded the Koby Mandell Foundation, and Mandell wrote a book about the murder entitled The Blessing of a Broken Heart.
Education and professional history
Sherri Mandell was born in New York and graduated from Cornell University in 1977. She received an M.A. in Creative Writing from Colorado State University and taught writing at the University of Maryland and at Penn State University. She is the author of Writers of the Holocaust and has written for numerous magazines and journals, including The Washington Post, The Denver Post and The Jerusalem Post, as well as Hadassah Magazine. Sherri and her husband Seth currently write a blog at JPost.com.Heart Earned Wisdom
Sherri and Seth lived in Israel briefly, and Sherri gave birth there to their first child, Yaakov (Koby) Mandell. In 1996, with her husband and their four children, Sherri moved to a settlement in the West Bank, where she still lives today. Sherri and Seth, a rabbi and Israel activist, spent several years in Chinuch, Jewish education, prior to moving to Israel. Seth Mandell was the executive director of the University of Maryland Hillel in College Park, Maryland, from ?? until 1996. Before that he was the director of the Penn State University Hillel. The time they spent as a Hillel family, particularly when they were living in Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC, developed within Sherri and Seth a sense of activism.
Murder of Koby Mandell
On May 8, 2001, Koby and a friend, Yosef Ishran, took off from school to hike in a canyon close to their home in Tekoa, a settlement in the West Bank. Koby and Yosef were found bludgeoned to death with stones, an act attributed to Palestinian terrorists, although the murderers were never found. Sherri Mandell founded the Koby Mandell Foundation in their son's memory. She is featured as an expert speaker on the documentary Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in Israel.
The Koby Mandell Foundation
The Koby Mandell Foundation, established in 2002, runs healing programs for families that have been directly affected by terror in Israel, having lost an immediate family member to a terrorist attack or an act of war. The Foundation sponsors Camp Koby, its flagship program, for children that have lost a parent or a sibling in an act of terror; Mothers' Healing Retreats for women bereaved by terrorist violence, and similar retreats for widows who have lost a husband to terror or war. Sherri currently directs the Mothers' Healing Retreats.
The Blessing of a Broken Heart
Her most recent book is about her experience losing her son. The Blessing of a Broken Heart (Toby Press, 2003) won the 2004 National Jewish Book Award in the Contemporary Jewish Life category. The book describes Sherri’s loss, her struggle with the first stages of mourning, her journey to find peace, and her growing faith as she endeavors to understand her pain in the context of 3,000 years of Jewish history and tradition. The book has also been made into a stage play.