Since his murder, Assaf’s father Yossi has kept his connection with his son alive through a new twist on an ancient Jewish custom – collecting stones to place on his son’s grave. Visitors to a gravesite place a stone on the monument, marking the fact that someone was there and still cared about the deceased.
In an appeal sent to hundreds of people through the internet, Tzur has asked readers to send a stone for Assaf.
Tzur describes in his letter all the possible places Assaf would have visited after his army service, had he lived. He talks about the many sites he himself has traveled to since that life-shattering event, describing how he has brought back pebbles from all over the world to lay at the large stone that now marks the place where his son’s body is buried.
“Ever since Assaf died, whenever I go on trips inside Israel or travel abroad I bring back with me a stone,” the grieving father explains in his letter. “With each stone I lay on Assaf’s tombstone, I [feel] I bring the world to him; I feel as if I took Assaf with me and brought the experience of that place to him... FFrom the Dead Sea in the south, from the Sea of Galilee in the north, from every creek and spring in Israel, shale from Ein Gedi, basalt from the Golan Heights...”
Tzur, whose own family name means “flint” (a stone that when struck, emits a spark), brings reminders of the world his son has left to the grave that remains as a monument of a life lost too soon.
“I am sending this letter in hope it will go around the world,” he writes. “I ask each one of you receiving this letter to mail me a stone from wherever you live... In this way I will bring the world to him for his 21st birthday on April 27th this year.”
To visit the website Tzur created in his son’s memory, click here.