Layers of Tragedy

Paula R. Stern,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Paula R. Stern
Paula R. Stern is CEO and founder of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company offering documentation services and training seminars. She made aliyah in 1993 when her oldest son was 6 years old. In March 2007, Elie entered the Artillery Division of the Israeli army and Paula began writing about her experiences as A Soldier"s Mother. The blog continues as Elie moved on to Reserve Duty, her second son, Shmuel served in Kfir and continues as her youngest son David now serves in Givati. She recently opened a publishing house, helping other authors fulfill their dream to publish. Links to the Author's blogs: * A Soldier"s MotherPaulaSays Israel Blogger...

Yesterday, I was sitting beside the Sea of Galilee, as at peace as a human being can be. The water glistened, the sun sparkled. My husband, two of my children, my daughter-in-law, and my precious granddaughter were with me.

We have been blessed, so blessed, my husband and I. Five children; three of them married. Three grandchildren and with the help of God (and our children), we hope to welcome many more. It doesn't really get more perfect than yesterday. A beautiful sea, a surprisingly uncrowded beach, smiling faces around us, great food, a comfortable breeze, a child sitting on my lap.

We came home tired but happy...until my phone beeped. Two parents were shot; four children in the car physically unhurt. Another beep moments later. The parents had died; four orphans...only there are six because two weren't in the car, my son told me later.

Only it gets worse. The children in the car range in age from nine years old to four months old. The nine year old, at least, will remember the moment her/his parents were murdered. And still worse, a tragedy by itself, the four month old will never remember, never know the parents that were lost.

And the layers of tragedy go deeper and deeper. Perhaps minor compared to the other tragedies, but still one that came to mind. While not all infants are breastfed, statistics say that as many as 87% of all babies in Israel are. And so I thought about who would feed this baby...if it cried for food before and after the children were found.

Four months old...who will nurse this 4-month-old child? Yes, yes, there is formula so we all know the child will not starve, and hopefully grandparents, uncles and aunts and, of course, five traumatized but loving siblings. But the wonder of breastfeeding a child, of holding it in your arms...and for the child, that close bond...tragically cut short.

And just a couple of days, Israel will celebrate the most joyous of holidays - Simchat Torah. Last year, Rabbi Henkin danced with his children to celebrate as we read the final chapter of the Torah...and then immediately begin it again. Will his children dance this year? Who will dance with them in the years to come? Fathers all over Israel lift their children onto their shoulders and dance with them...on whose shoulders will these children sit now?

Forever, they will be orphans, no matter who steps in to take care of them in the coming years. One of the greatest blessing God can give to a parent is to see them all married; to see them all have children. I see my parents - with three married children, eleven grandchildren, and now four great-grandchildren. That is life.

Eitam and Na'ama Henkin never lived to see their children grown, will never see them marry. They will never know their grandchildren, never know the blessing of great-grandchildren. There are so many layers of tragedy here; and as each one comes to mind, the heart breaks that much more.

Hamas has praised the attack, calls the murders "heroic." Heroic?

This was a family traveling in their car. Cold-blooded murder is not heroic and sickening is a culture or world that would think it is. The glee they express, adds more suffering to the family, more tragedy, more layers.

Soon, the anger will come - it is one of the stages we Israelis experience. First comes the crippling pain, the overwhelming sadness that terror has struck again, that new tragedies will unfold in the coming hours and days. Six orphans, the youngest an infant still. Parents who have lost their children; a community that has lost friends and neighbors.

After the pain and the sadness, comes the anger and the grief. In our anger, we will curse the murderers and those who are now celebrating this cowardly act.

After the anger and the grief, comes acceptance. We accept that this deed was done. That the Palestinians who attacked this young family thought in some twisted way that they were serving their people, their God.

What value to this world is a God that craves death, destruction, murder? In the Jewish religion, it is not God, but Satan that values this darkness.

I cannot speak for Islam or for the Palestinians. Supposedly, Mahmoud Abbas does. At least, he did during his speech before the United Nations. The lies he told seem more bitter today than they did even a few hours ago.

"We are working on spreading the culture of peace and coexistence between our people," said Abbas. And in the Israeli mind comes the thought that yes, we saw what was spread last night - bullets and blood. No culture, no peace, no coexistence was spread.

Abbas spoke of the Palestinians' "cultural, humanitarian and spiritual contributions to humanity from the start." I'm honestly at a loss to know what cultural contributions Palestinians have brought to humanity, what great humanitarian gestures, what spiritual contributions?

Jesus was a Jew who lived in the Jewish nation known as Judea. Only Abbas would have the nerve to get up before the world and claim, "Palestine is a country of holiness and peace. It is the birthplace of Christ, the messenger of love and peace." On any other day, his absurd attempt to hijack my people's history would be funny but today it is simply pathetic and tragic.

The mythical Palestine that Abbas dreams of is nothing more than the birthplace of terrorism, hatred, war, and death. Last night, it was Jewish blood that was spilled in this never-ending quest they have. For now, we will focus on the Henkin parents, who must be buried tomorrow and mourned by family, friends, neighbors and a nation that has no choice, no other option but to choose, again and again, life. We will mourn and grieve and the Henkin children will be raised - not in hatred but in love. They will not be taught that the solution rests in violence, in revenge. They will be raised to dream of a day when no other child - Palestinian or Israeli - is suddenly turned into an orphan because of blind hatred and fanaticism.

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