It’s been a rough week. When I checked the news on Motza’ei Shabbos, I had to do a double-take. Seven innocent people, a 14-year-old among them, were murdered in Neve Yaakov in cold blood on Friday night. Several others were wounded. It reminded me of the Mercaz HaRav Massacre in 2008, when eight students of the yeshivah were shot to death by a lone terrorist. I recall staring at my computer screen thinking there must be something terribly wrong with my computer. The words I was reading and the images I was seeing couldn’t possibly reflect reality.
The Shabbos terror didn’t end there. On Shabbos morning, there was another attack in The City of David, just outside the walls of the Old City in East Jerusalem, which left a father and 22-year-old son in moderate to serious condition. The son was an off-duty officer in the Paratroopers Brigade. He managed to shoot and hit the attacker despite having been shot himself. The 13-year-old terrorist who was raised on a diet of pure hatred for anything Jewish left a note for his mother, expressing his desire to die in an attack on Jews.
There have also recently been a number of foiled terror attacks targeting Netanya and Kedumim (in the Shomron). After a while, it becomes difficult to keep track of all that is going on.
The father of the 21-year-old Neve Yaakov terrorist expressed his pride in his son, describing the aftermath as being similar to his wedding. Videos of celebrations for the loss of life, including fireworks and guns being shot into the air, can be viewed on the Internet. Another video shows the mocking of a Jew in the elevator of Shaare Zedek Medical Center by those who are ecstatic about their “victory.” What kind of beings are these who glorify death, even of their own? Not the human kind, that is for sure.
In stark contrast to the evil terrorists, the victims were good, upstanding people who were going about their business, not bothering anyone else. Fourteen-year-old Asher Natan Morali, the eldest of eight children in his family, went outside to meet friends after the Shabbos seudah. Raphael Ben-Eliyahu was coming home from dinner together with his family when he heard calls for help. He immediately ran to help and was shot and killed. Irina Korolova worked as a caregiver in Neve Yaakov. Shaul Hai was on the way with his relatives to a Friday night shiur. Ilya Sosansky was on his way to work.
Eli and Natalie Mizrachi were in their apartment eating their Friday night dinner with Eli’s father when they suddenly heard gunshots. Being the caring person that he was, Eli ran out to see if he could be of help, ignoring the pleas of his father and neighbor to remain inside. Natalie was right behind him. Eli was immediately shot by the terrorist. Natalie was shot as she tried to administer CPR to one of the victims.
Large crowds arrived at the Beit Shemesh cemetery for the late-night funeral of the couple. Mayor Dr. Aliza Bloch eulogized the couple, stating that their immense hearts connected them both in life and in death.
My daughter and I went to pay a shiv’ah call to Natalie’s family, expecting to be one of the many anonymous visitors passing through in an attempt to help the family feel the hug of am Yisrael during their time of pain. But when we walked through the door, I recognized the woman sitting on a low chair. We had worked together in the past. She immediately responded to my inquisitive eyes and answered, “Yes, it’s me.” Natalie was her sister.
The room was filled with visitors but hardly anyone spoke. Natalie’s sister just kept stating over and over again that she is unable to absorb what happened. She spoke a bit about her sister and said how she took such good care of her father, and then her mother. She talked about the medic who had transported her sister and brother-in-law in the ambulance. He came to see her and explained how hard they had tried to save them. It’s hard enough to look at the faces of the victims in the newspapers, but to see those same faces in family photos framed and on display in someone’s living room is heartbreaking.
The staff members of Hadassah Har HaTzofim, where Natalie worked for 20 years, are not surprised that she immediately ran out to help the people who were being shot at. She was very dedicated to the patients and would take the time to brighten their day with a warm smile and a listening ear as she brought them their food.
Israel is a small country. Everyone seems to know each other. Yitzchak Wasserlauf, a member of the Knesset, went to Shaare Zedek to visit those wounded in the Shabbos attacks. He suddenly realized that one of the boys lying in bed, sedated and ventilated, had been a member of his branch of Bnei Akiva when he was a counselor. All he could do was cry.
Unfortunately, we have seen tragic circumstances such as these before. For these families, life will never be the same. But somehow, life goes on. A grandchild was already born to one of the victims.
Let us hope this will be the end of suffering and we will see better times.
Please daven for the soldier, Nadav Chayim ben Irit Chayah, who is in need of rachamei Shamayim.