Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran were two Israeli teens, 13 and 14 years old, who lived and attended school in the Israeli settlement of Tekoa, Gush Etzion, in the West Bank.

On May 8, 2001, the boys decided to skip school and went hiking in the Judean desert surrounding their village. At first, their parents weren’t worried about the boys. They believed that they had gone to school, and then to Jerusalem to participate in a political demonstration. But when the boys failed to come home by midnight, their parents informed the authorities and a search began. The lifeless bodies of the two boys were discovered the next morning in a cave near the West Bank settlement where they lived.

Seth and Sherri Mandell had moved to Israel from America in 1996 because they loved Israel and
felt the need to put Judaism in the center of their lives and their children’s lives. As parents to 3 other younger children, they both realized that in order to go on, they needed to transform the cruelty of Koby’s death into acts of kindness and hope. For that reason, they created the Koby Mandell Foundation which provides healing programs for families that had suffered from some form of terrorism.

Seth, a rabbi, and Sherri, an author and journalist, believe that the Jewish response to suffering is to live a fuller and more engaged life. Their programs help others who have suffered the trauma of loss overcome the isolation that keeps them from returning to life.

The Koby Mandell Foundation runs numerous programs for terror victims in Israel including a summer camp for children and teenagers, healing retreats, events for parents and widows and Comedy for Koby, a bi-annual comedy program with the appearance of famous comedians from America. Participants in the programs are helped to find meaning in their loss, so that the families find strength and meaning from their traumas. In this way, they keep Koby’s spirit alive in the world.