Blessings of a broke heart

June 21, 2016 by Lauren Finn
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Sherri Mandell, author of “Blessings of a Broken Heart” headline’s this year’s Sydney’s  Chabad North Shore Gala Dinner next week with her message of resilience.

Sherri Mandell Photo: Debi Cooper

Sherri Mandell Photo: Debi Cooper

In 2001, Sherri and her husband Seth lost their son Koby in a terrorist attack near their home on the West Bank in Israel. Koby was only 13 years old.

“I could have stayed in bed the rest of my life mourning him,” says Sherri. “I could have remained broken, resenting my life, my lot. But there is something in me that refuses to be broken, no matter how intense the pain, something that moves toward the light.”

It was with this light that together with Seth she established the Koby Mandell Foundation with the aim to create a Jewish response to the impact of terror and tragedy— helping bereaved mothers, fathers, widows, orphans and siblings re-build their lives, and create meaning out of suffering. The Koby Mandell Foundation helps families keep their hearts and spirits open.

Sherri is joining Rabbi Nochum and Rebbetzin Fruma Schapiro who spearhead Chabad North Shore to raise funds for programs run by the Centre that strengthen the fabric of the Jewish community North of the Harbour Bridge.

“Too often we find that people who go through a loss and tragedy have a very difficult time living a productive life as their world becomes shattered. I met Sherri on a recent trip to Israel. Whilst having lost her son to terrorism Sherri has not only continued living for her other children but has thrived in many ways, giving back to her community and making an incredible difference in the lives of families whose lives have been impacted by tragedy. She is one of the most resilient people I have ever met. Indeed even with her loss she celebrates and lives a very productive full life.” Said Rabbi Schapiro.

Funds raised at the Gala Dinner will go towards ensuring that Chabad North Shore continues to be a hub of activity providing educational, social and outreach services across the community. North Shore Chabad has been instrumental in connecting thousands of Jews of all ages to the heart of Judaism within a non-judgemental, warm, and joyous environment. Chabad also provides emotional, social and spiritual guidance and support to community members, unconditionally.

The event will also mark the Yahrzeit of long-time Chabad North Shore supporter and friend, Bonita Levy. Her final speech (which was due to be delivered at the dinner last year), dedicated to Chabad North Shore, will be read by her daughter. Unfortunately Bonita was too unwell to deliver it herself and passed away soon thereafter. She is missed by all that knew her.

The evening will culminate in a musical spectacular performance by The Voice winner Harrison Craig. Harrison won The Voice in 2013 after overcoming incredible challenges including a debilitating stutter he has had for most of his life.

The event will take place at Curzon Hall on Monday, June 27.

More information at


2 Responses to “Blessings of a broke heart”
  1. Michael Rosenfeld says:

    I had a professional association with Sherri, before her marriage, and always found her to be a charming and well mannered and accommodating, I however. was not aware of her strong resolve and strength of character, I was also a great fan of Bonita Levy, during my time on the board of Masada college, and subsequently, after my children grew older and left Masada I moved across the bridge to the East. As I have been travelling a lot in the past year I was also unaware of her passing, a great loss. I wish Manfred and the family a belated long life, and future health and good fortune.
    Unfortunately I am off again very shortly and will not be able to attend on 27th June, but I do wish everyone a very successful and enjoyable evening.

  2. David Adler says:

    If you have the chance you should attend this remarkable event.Had the opportunity of hearing Sherri in Israel earlier this year and she tells an outstanding story of the sort of experiences faced by the families of victims of terror and is a powerful inspiration.

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