Where Is My <i>Abba</I>?

He sat there alone, the empty chair near him stood in stark contrast to most of the other seats in the shul; father sat near his son? and another father sat near his son? and....

Isaac Kohn,

OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7
[In tribute to all of the orphans Oslo has created.]

?Kol Nidrei....? the cantor began the centuries-old, haunting chant; the Holy Ark was open, the Torahs were held by two elderly members standing on both sides of the chazan as, slowly, the congregation filed by, each bending down slightly to hug and kiss the holy scrolls.

?Kol Nidrei....? the voice echoed, as everyone quietly joined in. The voices slowly rose in crescendo; awe, anticipation, inspiration, reverence, veneration.

He sat there alone, the empty chair near him stood in stark contrast to most of the other seats in the shul; father sat near his son? and another father sat near his son? and....

The tiny, tearful voice shattered the tranquillity of the moment. The young boy, perhaps seven or eight, ran towards the open ark...

The chazan fell silent, the congregation stood dumbfounded. All eyes riveted on the unfolding scene, listening in total silence as the child began to cry.

?Abba! [Daddy!] You promised, you said you'll come right back, you promised to be careful. I know it happened almost two years ago, but it feels like only yesterday you forgot to come back. I wanted to go with you, but you gently refused, told me to stay home with Ima [Mommy] and my little brother, Yochanan. You said that, being a doctor, you must go out to visit the sick, that you have a special angel who'll protect you and wouldn't let the mechablim [terrorists] get you. You drove away, smiling and waving, as I stood in the yard looking as the car kept going, getting smaller and smaller. I stood there for a long time, Abba, I stood and waited for you to return. I got tired standing, so I sat down on the tree stump, the one near the gate. I must have fallen asleep, Abba.

?A hand touched me lightly on the shoulder, it was Ima. She stood there with Yochanan in her arms; she had a very strange smile on her lips, like she had cried. And then I saw the army car. The two uniformed men stood near it, looking at me in silence, their heads bowed. I was a little groggy, but I understood immediately. The last time I saw such two people was on that Shabbos when they came to tell Mr. Gil'ad that his daughter, Yael, was killed in a pigua [terrorist attack], remember? I knew, Abba! I knew that you will never come back again.

?You were my best friend, my buddy, my Abba and now I'm so alone. Ima doesn't know what my heart really feels, because when she is around, I try to act brave because I don't want her to know or to see. She says that now I am the 'Abba' of the house, but I don't want to be.?

Silence; crying voices were heard from the women?s section.

?I don't understand, Abba. Many nights, late in the dark, I heard you speak with friends who came over to visit. You spoke of the 'Oslo Criminals,' of the 'Road Map to Disaster,' of 'Jewish self-hate.' What do they mean? I remember how sad you were every time there was another pigua, a bombing, a murder of another Jew.

?Why are they killing us? What do these bad people want? I remember how sad you were that there were so many orphans, more and more every day; Chaim and Dror and Rachel and Feigi and Tomer... my friends are all orphans. And Dovid, who lost his Abba and Ima; never before did I see you, Abba, cry. I remember you telling me that we have to be strong, accept Hashem's will. But, you cried for them, Abba, you cried a lot.

?I asked Ima many questions. Maybe I shouldn't bother her, but whom should I ask, Abba? They said there was a levaya [funeral] for you (I knew what it was, I remember Yael?s), but they said that I will not attend, I should remember you as I did. And then they told me to say the Kaddish, because now I am an orphan, too. I didn't want to; you promised to come back and I believed you will. And I waited and waited.... I sat in the yard every day, waiting, looking for your car. But you never came back. Why, Abba? You promised me.

?You know, yesterday Ima began to cry when I asked her what kol nidrei means. She explained and I think I'm starting to understand. Something about all the promises we made and didn't or could not keep. Is your promise to come back also part of what you, Abba, couldn't keep?

?I had a dream last night, Abba; you were sitting on my bed, smiling, your lips moving, but I couldn't hear. I asked you to say it again, louder, and you did. You told me that you are watching from above, watching over us, that you love me. 'I love you too, Abba,' I said, 'I miss you so much. Please take me with you.' You touched my cheek, Abba and then... then, I saw you cry, again... and slowly, you faded away. I reached for you, felt my fingers touch yours. But you slipped away and then, Abba, then you disappeared.

?Come back, Abba, come back to me. Abba, you promised me. Because now, Abba, I cry, too.?

Suddenly, he stopped; turning around, he looked at all of the faces in the praying crowd, not an eye was dry as he walked slowly back to his seat.

?Kol Nidrei...? the chazan's chant rose again. A slight breeze blew through the open window, the boy shivered in his seat.

?Is that you, Abba??