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Triumph of ‘Master Chef’ Contestant Blinded by Terror

Israeli woman blinded by suicide bomber relates the journey that has led her to find success as a cook: 'I want to live'.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 1/5/2014, 10:30 AM

Shafri Shapira
Shafri Shapira
From Master Chef

Nearly 11 years ago, Shafri Shapira’s world was turned upside down when a suicide bomber blew up a bus in Haifa next to her car. The attack murdered 17 people, most of them children and teenagers, and cost Shapira her eyesight.

Now, despite her disability, Shapira has found success as a cook, and has become one of the contestants on the Israeli version of Master Chef, which is broadcast on Channel 2.

The show's judges were clearly moved as Shapira related her story.

“Before the terror attack I was a very active woman. I didn’t have a moment’s free time,” she related. “I have a doctorate in political science and criminology.”

After the attack, she said, everything changed. “Suddenly you have nothing,” she said. “When they told me I was blind, I didn’t want to live.”

She struggled with depression for several years, she said. Then, she continued, “five years ago, I woke up. I said, ‘I have children, I have a wonderful husband – we’re together 44 years already – and I want to live.’”

As part of her move toward rebuilding her life, she related, “I returned to my love of cooking.”

Chef Chaim Cohen was drawn to ask, “How, practically speaking, does a blind person cook?” Shapira explained, “I put everything on the table in a certain order. I smell everything.”

When asked if she manages to cook all of the dishes she once made, Shapira answered in the affirmative. “I do everything. I’m not afraid. I’m not going to give up on the things that I want to do. I want to live, I want to be active. I’m not a pity case… I want to do everything like anyone else,” she declared.