I made Aliyah in June 1994. I cried when I left family and friends in Los Angeles. I cried when I arrived with my family in Israel. I cried when the doctor told me it "was a baby girl" in July '95 at Hadassah Hospital. I cried when it was a baby boy in March '97 at Hadassah.
For the past 24 hours, life in Israel has been the worst 24 hours since our aliyah seven years ago. Yes, I have written before about the bombings, the bullets, and the orphans. Yes, I have written before about the happy times of births, bar/bat mitzvahs and weddings.
Today, I must share with you the stories behind some of the 15 dead Jews from the pizzeria terrorist bombing.
Newly engaged Zvi Golobek, age 26 from Karmiel, was active with his father in the local chapter of Meretz. He and his family were to meet the bride's family at a restaurant in Jerusalem. They were to discuss wedding plans and go over the guest list. He arrived early at the restaurant with his fiancee, and the young couple saved a table while they waited as his parents made the long drive from Karmiel (in the Galielle region), and the bride's parents were delayed in traffic from their apartment in Jerusalem.
For the dead groom, what was to be a wedding list became a funeral list.
A bomb went off. The groom is dead, the fiancee is injured. As the funeral procession began in Karmiel for the dead groom, what was to be a wedding list became a funeral list. The bride is in stable condition, her beautiful face filled with shrapnel and nails. The bride's parents are sitting in the shiva house, with the machatanim (in-laws) they will never have.
The two best friends, Malka and Esther, both 15, had known each other since age 2. They met for pizza after helping kids in their neighborhood at summer camp. One girl came from the suburb of Ramot and one from Jerusalem in the city. Their busses were delayed due to a suspicious object on the road. They called each other on the cellular phone and changed their lunch plans to 2:00 p.m. at Sbarro. Esther phoned her mother, a nurse at Hadassah and said, "I won't be home for dinner, I'm with Malka in town."
The mother finished her shift and returned home with the radio news of a bomb in a restaurant. She had just eaten there the night before with Esther. They had come from the cemetery, as it was the yahrtzeit of Esther's father who died 11 years ago, when Esther was only 4. They recited "Kaddish," and then went out to eat on Wednesday night at Sbarro. Esther loved the food, so the next day she met Malka at the same restaurant. They were buried two hours apart at Har Menuchot.
Today, due to terrorist beasts, the family went to the cemetery instead of the zoo.
Tehila Maoz, 20, promised her little brothers all week that she would take them to the zoo. She called the little siblings at 1:30 p.m. and asked if they wanted some pizza which she would bring home. The 5-year-old brother wanted pizza with mushroom, and ice cream. She explained that it was too hot to bring ice cream which would melt. The pizza was ordered and as she hung up the phone, the bomb went off. Today, due to terrorist beasts, the family went to the cemetery instead of the zoo. The little siblings cried, watching their big brother pray at what they thought was a "sandbox" (the gravesite), over their sister who had pizza to go and is now in heaven.
The Schijveschuurder family, immigrants from Holland with 8 children, lived in the town of Talmon in Samaria. The mother was a special-ed teacher working with hearing disabled children. The father was principal of the local day school. They wanted to get away from Arab attacks and drive-by shootings, so they promised their five youngest children to spend two days in Jerusalem. They took the kids swimming, checked into a hotel, and then went out to eat pizza and lasagna. The oldest three children were back home in Talmon and heard the gruesome news on the radio. The next day, the Chief Rabbi of Israel presided over five funerals: the mother, father, and three children, buried side by side. Two other children were recuperating in the hospital, while the oldest children were at the cemetery, saying "Kaddish," five separate times.
Shoshana (Judy) Greenbaum, age 30 and pregnant, was the only child of Dr. Allan & Shifra Hayman of Los Angeles. We attended the same synagogue while we were living in LA, before our aliyah. We watched our children grow together and I knew that the Haymans were so proud of their only child, who was now married and living in the East Coast. Their pride and their joy was in Israel to participate in a teacher's program of Yeshiva University. She was supposed to go back next week. She was murdered at the pizza shop.
We had to get moving. Shabbat was approaching and there were still two more children’s funerals.
The day after the bombing, I drove with a close friend to the Jerusalem cemetery, Har Hamenuchot. We parked our car and watched the funeral processions. One family was burying Malka, another family had just buried the best friend Esther. The family from Holland of five burials were leaving from another route. People were coming and going in all directions. I stood outside the chapel listening to the eulogies. The room was packed. Outside the chapel, another family was waiting with its body.
As the screams and cries and tears reverberated around the pathways and walkways, I watched behind my tear-soaked sunglasses the teenage classmates of the murdered children. The media was everywhere. It was 100 degrees outside. We had to get moving. Shabbat was approaching and there were still two more children’s funerals.
My eyes are dry and red. Too many funerals, not enough tears.