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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Transitions: Going from Terror and Grief Back to Daily LIfe


5 Tamuz, 5744

Israelis, and  decent people worldwide, are grieving the triple murder of our teens who'd been heading home from school.

I was at the funeral for the young men, sharing the agony with thousands of people streaming in from all over the world. I'm sharing some thoughts about that, with you, below:

I attended the funeral of our murdered boys. Thousands upon thousands of Israelis came to mourn, and to honor them, together.

Jews from Karnei Shomron, Gush Etzion, Modiin, Tzfat, Bet Shemesh, Tel Aviv, Netivot/Maagalim and the rest of the Holy Land came together. Many of us trekked 2 kilometers or so uphill. Buses were tightly packed on limited parking spaces; No spaces were left for vehicles arriving from every bit of the country. The cemetery had been built for a community, not for a national event. It happens to be equidistant to the hometowns of the murdered young men, hence its use for this triple funeral.

Many mourners had no choice but to walk the remainder of the journey from where they'd parked or arrived via public transportation. Babies bounced in slings upon parental backs or inside strollers. Older children clung to parental wrists with both hands. Bikers eased their ways among pedestrians. People using adaptive devices limped and strode with the rest of the crowd. Distance was irrelevant. The purpose of coming together was not.

The grief is so heavy, so penetrating throughout every cell of our bodies and minds. The lives of three pure souls who had never harmed anyone, who had spent their young lives sharing happiness and decency, have ended in brutality.,7340,L-4536670,00.html

Jews, who choose life and the morality bestowed on us by The Creator, sang at the funeral. Astonishing as that exception to the decorum of Orthodox Jewish funerals is, the spiritual beauty of the lyrics and sentiments seemed to widen a portal between heaven and earth.

Ko amar HaShem, the love song of GOD for His children

V'hi Sh'amda, GOD's promise to rescue us from millennia of persecution (lyrics are at

Those were only some of the achingly sweet, loving thoughts on the minds of a people mourning a heinous triple murder. We sang those sentiments, and similar fare, unrehearsed, spontaneously, and with agony soaked in confidence. The Geula, may it be soon and b'rakhamim/in compassionate gentleness, will be part of the Messianic process that turns raw, ragged human life into unparalleled goodness.

GOD was at the funeral and in every heart. Politicians and everyday citizens shared airspace, sweating profusely in high, very humid heat, together. As we converged on narrow roads to meet at the triple gravesite, it seemed uncanny that feet weren't stepped on. Feelings weren't hurt as people, crowded much too close together did their best to move reverently if awkwardly with every step. Holiness is not a time for trivialities such as who goes first, last or in-between. We moved as one. Forward. Affectionately. Focused.

People recognized acquaintances and relatives among the throngs coming and going on multiple paths, from many directions, to the burial site. We had only one shared destination: Kedushat HaShem. Our kavod hameit, respect for the dead, was tempered with a sweetness that is rare. 

Am Yisrael, the Jewish people, has been brought to its knees, begging for the lives of the boys to be saved, then acknowledging that Our Creator gave us a far different scenario. We have accepted the agony as part of GOD's plan for us. We have lived our lives absorbing realities that we learned from our Torah and sages, saints and prophets. And we proved that Torah values are the very fabric of our beings.

We stood at the site that signified so much horror, and called for GOD to bless the world with enduring peace. We promised to create as much of it as we can. And then some.

May we build, and be blessed by Heaven, with growing strengths. We face a future together. We. Are. One.

May we pursue the rest of our lives proving that Am Yisrael, the Jewish people, does not need a tragedy of any magnitude to bring us together or to remind us of holy priorities. We can remain in the moment of reverence, or recall it should we momentarily forget this day and all the lessons leading to it.

Everyone mourning this loss and its wider implications needs to transition back into a productive life. The following incident put a smile back on my face quite unexpectedly, just yesterday:

I rode a bus as passengers sweltered in high, humid Middle East heat. A mommy boarded with her cranky little one.

I invited them to sit with me, on the bus' only empty seat. The mother gratefully sat down and was soundly kicked by her tired, hot, and irritable little one. You know those moments, when nothing you do can possibly soothe your child?

I looked into the tired mother's eyes and said "I'm holding a fresh batch of whole-grain spelt pitot, still warm from the oven. May I give one to your child? Eating keeps little children too busy to make mischief." She and the toddler eagerly accepted the yummy treat. The child stuffed broken pieces of pita into all our mouths, and beamed at me.

That smile felt like heaven. It was a gift all of us needed. And indeed, I find myself able to transition back to everyday life, now that it was aimed toward me.


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