Hitting Home

Posted on March 7th, 2008

We went to bed crying last night over news that eight students had been murdered in their Jerusalem yeshiva. The news for us got much worse today.

Walking into shul, I saw a friend with a heavy face. “You heard?” he asked. “One of the boys was from Neve Daniel.” When tragic news hits close to home, somehow the pain is ten times worse. The murdered boy’s family lives just down the street from me. Suddenly, it was painful to get through Rosh Chodesh Adar davening. I know it was the wrong thing to do, but I walked away at Hallel. I know our tradition tells us to praise Hashem in good times and in bad. But I hope he will excuse me, I’m just not at that level.

A bus came to the Yishuv, and we were on the way to Markaz HaRav, the school where the murders took place. Soon we were standing in the street, with thousands of people crowded round under the hot sun. No one had any words, there was no need.

Eight ambulances carrying eight bodies of teenagers who yesterday afternoon were looking forward to a wonderful Israeli spring weekend. Each ambulance stopped and the broken body of a young man was taken out and into the Bet Midrash.

Rabbis who had taught these kids now tried to eulogize them through the tears. Thousands of men and women joined in the crying. Just when I though the grief could not get worse, eight families were called up to tear Kria together. There was nothing to do but put your head down and let the tears slide down your face onto the pavement. I will never forget the looks of anguish on the faces of the parents of these young men. Frozen screams without much sound.

One boy was from our Yishuv and another from Efrat next door. They had siblings in my kids’ classes. How do you explain to your child that someone just murdered their friend’s brother and now crowds in Gaza are boasting about this heinous act? If you know, tell me. I haven’t a clue.

Sadness does not describe what we feel here. The feeling is closer to pain. We grieve over any tragedies, but now someone from our little Yishuv has become a statistic in Israel’s never ending war on terror – and that’s different.

I look around at all the children out playing in the sun, and I plead to G-D that we never experience another such tragedy. It hurts so much because we as a culture are in love with life. Our enemies prefer death.

I don’t know if it was the dancing crowds in Gaza or the meaningless drivel of a “condemnation” that the leader of the death eaters gave to the press, but I have come to the conclusion that nothing but an all out war will bring about peace.

Please Mr. Olmert, please, no more children growing up in bomb shelters in Sderot. No more high-schoolers murdered learning Jewish holy books, and no more tears in beautiful Neve Daniel or anywhere else in the land of Israel.

May all today’s mourners find comfort among those who mourn for Jerusalem.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel

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