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'On Passover, Our Son Will be Missing'

As families gather for Passover, many will struggle with the absence of loved ones. Chagit Rhein speaks about the loss of her son Benaya.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/15/2011, 12:34 PM / Last Update: 4/15/2011, 1:28 PM

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On Passover, when Chagit Rhein's children, sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren sit around the seder table, the absence of son Benaya will be felt more than ever. “At those times when what we have is visible, what is missing cries out,” she told Arutz Sheva.

Benaya was Chagit and Shimon Rhein's third son, one of eight children. “Thank G-d, we have another seven children, we have children-in-law, grandchildren. But with all the fullness, the emptiness is strongly felt... With the years, we learn to take the pain and move forward. It is not sadness, but pain, pain born from love, pain because we could have seen Benaya today with his wife and children.”

Alongside the pain is pride over Benaya's accomplishments, she added.

There is also pain over more recent tragedies: the Rheins were acquainted with Udi and Ruti Fogel, who in March were murdered by terrorists in their home in Itamar along with three of their six children. “I always told my husband that I was amazed at how that family managed to rise from the ashes and keep moving forward, I always admired them,” Chagit recalled. “The murder shows that we apparently have a long way to go until the redemption.”

Benaya Rhein fell in battle during the Second Lebanon War. He was not called to fight but insisted on joining his unit, telling commanders, “As long as residents of the north cannot return home, I will not return home.”

He was assigned to bring supplies to troops and to rescue wounded soldiers, and over the course of the war the tanks in his command succeeded in rescuing dozens of people. Benaya and his crew were killed on the last day of the war, when Hizbullah terrorists fired on their tank as they attempted to save soldiers in a tank that had been hit.

Chagit and Shimon Rhein, Benaya's parents, have worked to commemorate their son's life by bringing more good into the world. In 2007 the family donated life-saving equipment to Hatzolah Israel, and the Karnei Shomron branch of the rescue organization was renamed “Koach Benaya.”

Efforts are being made to build a new neighborhood in Karnei Shomron, to be named Nofei Benaya.