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A Shiva Call to Hallel Ariel’s Family

A Shiva Call to Hallel Ariel’s Family

Hallel’s funeral coincided with the bat mitzvah celebration of our daughter, Hallel. We had to do something.


The Talmud teaches us that "kol Yisrael areivim zeh ba’zeh" – every Jew is a guarantor for each other. We are all connected; we are responsible for every Jew.

I recently gained a deeper appreciation of the meaning of this idea.

Last Thursday Hallel Yaffa Ariel was murdered in her bed in Kiryat Arba. When I heard the news my whole family was in the midst of preparations for the celebration of the bat mitzvah of our daughter who is also named Hallel.

As we were cooking a festive meal, decorating the hall, getting dressed and ready to celebrate, the news reports of this terrible tragedy broke. Throughout that day my mind was torn between our happiness and the other family's loss. Then to my great sadness the hour of the funeral was announced: it coincided with the exact hour that our celebration was to begin.

I felt that I must do something. How could we dance when another Jewish family was mourning? When my daughter spoke at the bat mitzvah she started by reciting Psalms to honor the murdered girl's memory. Yet that was not enough for me.

My husband and I decided to visit the Ariel family in Kiryat Arba, to be meanchem avelim – to comfort mourners during shiva. We do not know the Ariel family yet as fellow Jews who live here in Israel we felt that we could not let this family's pain go unacknowledged.

I felt some trepidation during the long drive from Petach Tikvah to Kiryat Arba. Firstly there was the real fear that we felt driving on a road that has been the site of many violent attacks against Jews. I also felt a little awkward going to visit a family I didn't know at such a sensitive time.

The road to Kiryat Arba is pastoral and scenic and the Ariel family live in a modest house surrounded by vineyards which produce grapes for wine. When we turned off the main road to drive on the unpaved track that leads to their house, we were surprised to find that it was crowded with cars. So many other people had had the same idea.

Rena and Amichai Ariel are first and foremost parents who feel the loss of their daughter, a pain that cannot be described with mere words. Yet they are people who believe in their chosen path. The parents acknowledged each and every person who came to see them. They spoke about their beautiful daughter and their desire to choose life and happiness.

One of the family friends, a professional photographer, brought them a portrait of their daughter. At first Reena cried bitter tears but quickly gathered herself and said, "Look at this picture. This is how I want people to remember my daughter." She went on to say that they choose life. They will do their crying at night but will fill their house with joy for the younger children.

The house was bustling with people from all over the country and from all walks of life – religious and non-religious, politicians and rabbis , family and friends, and people like us who just wanted, in some small way, to help and join them in their pain.

The family produces wine and asked the visitors to use the wine that Hallel had helped to bottle at their Shabbat table. We left the house very touched by the family's strength and especially their commitment to living and planting in the holy land. We came to give strength and came away strengthened. The following Shabbat their wine graced our table and words of Torah were shared in memory of Hallel Yaffa.

The Ariels touched our lives. Even though we did not know them, we felt a deep connection, a Jewish family that is in fact part of our wider Jewish family.

May Hallel’s memory be a blessing.

July 10, 2016

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Alan simpson, July 12, 2016 2:35 PM

all are connected!

Not justJews are connected! We all are ! Until we see our brothers in every mans ( and women!) Face we are still living in darkness.

(1) Anonymous, July 11, 2016 6:09 PM

Sincere condolences from Australia

We Jewish People herein Far flung Australia want to express our sincere. Condolences to the Ariel Family
"May you be comforted amongst. The mourners. Of Tziyon and. Yerushalim'

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