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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Six years since the Sbarro terror attack in Jerusalem

Earlier this week, I saw a link to an article that described a way to use a 'brain pacemaker' to help bring people out of deep comas. I contacted my friend Dr. Savta, who is close with the family of Chana Tova Chaya Nachenberg, a woman who has been in a coma since six years ago today, the 20th day of Av, when she was sitting in a Sbarro's pizza shop in downtown Jerusalem and a suicide bomber walked in. Chana Tova Chaya (bat Pesha - for those of you who were wondering) is married and has a child who was an infant at the time. She is just one of the casualty reports that you don't hear in the media - the aftermath of 'Palestinian' terrorism. She's in what's so gently called a 'long-term care facility.'

What's unusual about the Sbarro bombing - probably the worst one in Jerusalem during the 2000-04 reign of terror - is that most of you remember it. There are a number of reasons for this. First, Sbarro is a well-known chain with restaurants all over the world. It's something with which most westerners can identify. Second, the 'Palestinians' set up an 'exhibition' in which they extolled the Sbarro terrorists for their great 'accomplishment.' That 'exhibition' (pictured at top left) took place at an-Najah University in Shchem (Nablus). Third, many of the victims were either immigrants from western countries or tourists.

For those of us in Jerusalem, nearly everyone either knew someone who was in Sbarro or who had left Sbarro 'just in time' that day (including the wife of one of my closest friends). Sbarro, which, although it reopened in the same location, has since moved to much smaller quarters several blocks away, was located in a large airy building on the corner of Jaffa and King George Streets in the center of downtown Jerusalem. It was also a restaurant that had 'Mehadrin' Rabbinical supervision - a higher level of supervision which at that time was unusual for a downtown restaurant. It was a terror attack that literally shook this entire city.

When it happened, I was sitting in my downtown Jerusalem office, probably about a mile up the road on the same street. What I didn't know when I heard the explosion is that my own daughter, who was 17 at the time, was standing just a couple of hundred feet from Sbarro's (if that). She was between shifts at the bagel shop at which she was working that summer, and she had decided to walk to the Jaffa and King George corner to catch a bus to my in-laws' house. It was a few days before she could talk about it, but eventually she wrote this for me and I published it on my email list:
it was a pretty normal day at work (i work at a food store down town), i had been working everyday that week so was really looking forward to shabbos [the Sabbath CiJ]. we were kind of low on staff, everyone was out on vacation that week, so i had a split shift, 6:30 till 1:30/45 and then 6:00-12:00.

at around 1:45 i was going to go get changed to leave for the morning when a few customers came in, i decided to stay a few more minutes..

i was walking up yaffo, towards king george, on the left side of course b/c it is shady there in the afternoon and it was very hot. i didn't walk too fast or too slow just our normal pace. about a half a block from the corner (the now famous corner) there was a blast sooo strong i was sure the world was collapsing, then TONS of glass shattered all over there was screaming and blood people running and people frozen to the spot. little kids were crying for there mothers and tons of blood all over the place, it was real chaos. everything is such a blur to me, i remember a religious man in black pants and a white shirt covered in blood, i remember a little girl with long hair matted in blood and glass. and the smell, of smoke, explosives and human flesh all mingled together, i couldn't breathe, i remember a panicky feeling all i wanted to do was to get out of there to wake up from that nightmare, THIS SHOULDN'T BE HAPPENING TO ME! it happens to other people on the news (which i don't listen to anymore), not to me, i want to feel safe and protected, nothing ugly like that invading my thoughts and dreams when i don't want it to, these sights should be my choice to see or not when i turn on the news (or not).

i don't know how long i stood there but i finally moved, i walked the half an hour walk to my grandparents house willing myself on the way to take deep breaths and calm down, i didn't want to faint or cry, i wanted to forget all about this and just go back to normal. i want to leave not ! live in fright of everything letting my imagination run wild about any arab i see, people may think it's cowardly behavior and it's giving in to the arabs, but i don't care, that child in me begs for the feeling of safety again. i know everything is in h'ashems [God's CiJ] hands and if chas v'shalom [God forbid. CiJ] he decides something, we can't runaway, yonah [The prophet Jonah CiJ] tried and he couldn't. but there is something irrational about the way i'm feeling now, i want to get away from all these killings from the fear...

i still can't walk by that corner, i take a roundabout way to work ever day just to avoid walking there... those customers who walked in, they were h'ashems shlichim [God's messengers CiJ] who were there to save my life, they could have been those annoying customers the kind i don't really like serving, i honestly don't remember. i was very lucky 15 weren't they died, may h'ashem [God CiJ] avenge their blood, and may they rest in peace, over 100 weren't as lucky as i, but they to were lucky they were 'only' wounded, may h'ashem [God CiJ] grant them a speedy and easy recovery.

one of my friends said, after i wouldn't tell her what i saw, that i have to talk to someone- get it out of my system, well it took me a few days but here it is, i hope you all forgive me if i depressed you i really didn't mean to.

love, avigayil.
For Arnold and Frimet Roth, whose daughter Malki HY"D was two years behind Avigayil in high school, the worst happened R"L (God forbid). Malki and her friend Michal Raziel HY"D were sitting in Sbarro's eating lunch when the bomber came in. They were both killed. Tomorrow, like every year, there is a memorial at their graves (which are near the graves of the others who were murdered in Sbarro's) at the local cemetery here in Jerusalem. Here's some of what Arnold wrote just before the Sabbath yesterday (the picture nearby is of Arnold and Frimet with Malki HY"D):
Jewish tradition focuses much more attention on life than on death. One of the ways we see this is in how the upbeat and pleasant nature of the Sabbath prevails over the well-defined practices associated with mourning and grief. There are very few public, outward manifestations of grief on Sabbath. So strong is this inclination that apart from the saying of the very brief Kaddish memorial prayer, the anniversary (which is what the Yiddish word yahrzeit refers to) is hardly noticed.

Hardly noticed, that is, by outsiders. For us, the family, the day is full of memories, pain and regret.

The public remembering of Malki's life will take place on Sunday late afternoon, deferred in accordance with tradition to a time other than the Sabbath.

At 6pm this Sunday, 5th August, at Jerusalem's Mt Tamir Cemetery, the families and friends of two girls, our daughter Malki Roth and her friend Michal Raziel will gather at the two side-by-side graves for a simple ceremony of remembrance, psalms and prayer.

Even if Malki's 15 years of life were personally unknown to you, even if her death was just another news report among many, please take a moment to read about our daughter and the things we try to do in her memory. You might start here.
Ironically, my own mother's Yahrtzeit (Yahrtzeit is observed annually on the Jewish date of death) is tonight and tomorrow. Unfortunately, Mom a"h (may she rest in peace) is buried in the US and therefore I cannot go to her grave tomorrow. But there is a Jewish custom that one should go to the cemetery on the Yahrtzeit of a parent, even if one cannot go to the parent's grave. So I will probably be in that same cemetery sometime tomorrow.

Another family whose lives were changed forever by the Sbarro bombing was the family of Shoshana Judith Greenbaum HY"D, who last lived in the same town in New Jersey from which we made aliya in 1991. In fact, as it turned out, she and her husband had purchased their home from two of our closest friends. Shoshana, who was an only child, was expecting their first child. She was here in Jerusalem attending a seminar, and went to Sbarro for lunch that day. The Sbarro terror attack took place on a Thursday afternoon. Shoshana HY"D was buried here in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon. Her husband Shmuel made it here for her burial (he had gone back to the US a couple of days earlier and Shoshana was to have returned the following week), but her parents who then lived in California did not make it here for her funeral. They came for the Shloshim (end of the first 30-day mourning period) and I handed her father - who probably has no idea who I am to this day - about 100 pages of computer printout with newspaper clippings about his daughter that I had gathered from around the world. I understand that Shoshana's parents now live in Israel.
Her husband Shmuel (pictured with her at left) started an organization called A Tradition of Kindness in her memory, and has become one of the best known promoters of kind acts in the world. This is from their website.
My wife, Shoshana, was murdered by a suicide bomber. She was one of over 100 victims that were killed or injured at 2:00 P.M. on August 9, 2001 at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. Jews all over the world share my pain.

We all want to do something to fight against the current wave of violence and anti-Semitism in Israel and throughout the world. We have tried to defend ourselves against the media attacks and suicide bombers, but the defense is not working. Jews in every country share a sense of fear and desperation -- a feeling that we must tell the world the truth. But the sad truth is that in the eyes of the world, the Jewish concepts of morality and honesty are no match against the immorality and lies of our opponents.

We must change our strategy. In place of fear we must feel pride. In place of desperation we must show concern for our fellow Jews. One of the fundamental principles of Judaism is kindness; we need to teach this to our people and to the world.

On January 1, 2002, I started a non-profit organization called " Partners In Kindness." Partners In Kindness produces non-sectarian material to inspire schools, employers, governments and the general public to do acts of kindness. Visit our website www.PartnersInKindness.org .

Our second non-profit organization is called "A Tradition of Kindness." A Tradition of Kindness hopes to work with Jewish organizations around the globe to show people of all religions that Jewish kindness is demonstrated daily in every country, every city, and every town. This kindness forms the basis of the Jewish religion. Indeed, Jewish kindness is in the heart of every Jew.

The "Tradition of Kindness" website will be highly emotional and moving. It will feature dozens of stories of kindness from every facet of Jewish life from around the world. Visitors to the website will be able to subscribe to a weekly e-mail, free of charge and replete with stories about kindness.

Our first project, which is well underway, is called "A Daily Dose of Kindness." Each day people report acts of kindness to me and I report anonymously to the list what people have done. These stories give you ideas and encourage you to do acts of kindness. It is pretty contagious. In just two months, 300 participants in four countries had subscribed to the e-mail list.

A Tradition of Kindness is much more than a website or an e-mail list, it is a organization which will be used to galvanize the Jewish people in kindness through grass-roots programs involving the future leaders of the Jewish people -- our children.

We are launching another e-mail program in schools. Jewish schools, both religious and secular, all over the world will submit stories about acts of kindness. Every grade, every school, and every country will sponsor two weekly contests -- one contest for stories about acts of kindness that the students do; a second contest will be for acts of kindness that their parents do. Once a month the schools will e-mail us their winning stories. Our multinational panel of judges will pick winners for each country. The list of all winning stories will be distributed to all participants. We need your help to make this project succeed. Ask your school to join our project.

A Tradition of Kindness will leverage the tremendous energy and public interest newsworthiness of these projects to create uplifting news stories for both the secular and Jewish press throughout the world. A rather tall task perhaps. But our Rabbis have taught us that "In a place that there is no man, strive to be a man."

We invite you to join us. Be our "partner in kindness." Help us to show all the nations that the Jewish world is a world of kindness.

We do not need your money. Nor do we need much of your time.
Shmuel has written an amazing essay about Shoshana which I recommend that all of you (especially those of you who are Orthodox Jews!) read in full. Here's part of it:
May we focus on the good in every person and inspire them to greater heights. This was Shoshana's goal in life. May we all follow in her footsteps.

Shoshana's goal in life was to reach out to each and every soul she touched with her love; to give each one self esteem; to comfort each one in their sadness; and to raise each one to their highest potential.

Her life was dedicated to truth and kindness. She inspired men and women of all religions with her ways. She was the perfect role model for the Jewish women she taught.

For those of you who have not yet met a role model like Shoshana, know that they do exist. If you keep on looking you will find one. And with G-d's help you will strive to be a role model yourself.

Shoshana dedicated her life to elevating each and every one of the hundreds of girls she taught to become just like she was. In the process she also inspired their parents and all the others she met wherever she went.

...

Sometimes we see how much G-d loves us when he rewards us for our kindness. I saw this during my trip to Israel, a few weeks after Shoshana’s funeral.

I went with Shoshana’s parents to visit an elderly Rabbi, who Shoshana's parents knew from Los Angeles. He told us a story about what happened to his granddaughter on the day that Shoshana was killed.

He said that someone in his family drives him to a friend every morning; he studies with his friend for a few hours; then someone else brings him home later. His granddaughter often drove him home.

On the day of the bombing, his granddaughter made a 1:00 appointment with her sister to buy shoes at a shoe store next door to Sbarro. They decided that they would go for lunch afterwards at the restaurant next door.

He called his granddaughter that morning and told her that he would like her to pick him up. She called her sister to cancel their appointment.

...

Shoshana teaches us that our sensitivity and caring for others must extend much further than to merely our relatives. Shoshana was sensitive to the girls who lost parents or had other challenges at home. She would go out of her way never to say anything which could make them feel uncomfortable. She would always try to give them strength and comfort them. She engrained her strength in them and made them truly believe that, as she used to tell them "there is good in every bad."

What is the secret to seeing the good? The secret is believing in G-d, believing in yourself and having a positive attitude. Here’s a story to illustrate the point.

Shoshana came to Israel on a six-week all-expense-paid program, which she thought, would make her the perfect teacher.

When I asked my two bosses for permission to take a six-week vacation, one boss said I could take six weeks; the other boss said I could take four. (Perhaps if they had both agreed to let me go for six weeks, someone else would be speaking today, and I would be in Heaven with Shoshana now.)

I arrived in Israel the week after Shoshana arrived and departed a week before she was to depart.

When I arrived in Israel, I looked on the window ledge outside our dormitory apartment and I saw a big bucket sitting on its side. In the bucket were a few long thin twigs and some bird feathers. It looked like a birds nest.

Shoshana stopped me one day and said. "Shmuel… Shmuel… there's a bird on the ledge. I think it's dying… It looks sick… What can we do to help it?"

I said "Shoshana… that's a birds nest. The bird on the ledge is the mother. She is waiting to lay her eggs. "

Shoshana said "No… it's not a mother bird. It's the wrong season. It's the summer. Birds only lay eggs in the spring."

"Shoshana…" I said. "Believe me, it's a birds nest and that's the mommy bird waiting for the right time to deliver her eggs."

A few days later, Shoshana came over to me and said. "Shmuel you are right… the mommy bird was sitting in the bucket.

When she got up I saw that she was sitting on two little eggs."

Early every morning we watched the mommy bird and tatty bird switch places on top of their precious little treasure. We took picture of the mommy bird and the tatty bird and the eggs.

Each day we watched, and waited, and hoped that the eggs would hatch.

On my last night in Israel, I asked Shoshana to tell me when the eggs hatch and to take a picture of the babies.

One day while I was on the phone with Shoshana, I asked her what happened with the eggs. She said "Shmuel… one of the eggs hatched… there was a baby bird… it looked so ugly." "Shoshana…" I said "it may look ugly now… we may not see the future… but we will see the future… and it will be beautiful."

The birds were doves. The dove in Jewish thought is symbolic for the Jewish people. The dove is faithful to her mate for her entire life.

No matter how bad things may seem, the Jewish people are always faithful to G-d.

At 2:00 that afternoon she was doing the mitzvah of honoring her grandfather that she loved to do so much, while Shoshana was buying a pizza.

(Please don't misunderstand me, Shoshana also honored her parents and grandparents. She spoke with her parents on the phone almost every single day and she always went to visit her grandparents at just about the time the bombing took place, 2:00 on a Thursday afternoon. In fact, out of the six weeks she was in Israel this was the only Thursday that she could not go to visit them, because she had a class the next day.)
The family that may have been most torn apart by the Sbarro attack was the Schijveschuurder family. Two of the parents and three of the eight children (including an infant from whom all that was recovered was a pacifier) were murdered at Sbarro. A couple of other children were injured. The father Moti, HY"D, is pictured at left. In September 2004, I received the following email:
I was wondering if you could do me a favour please. I live in London, and am running the New York marathon in a couple of months time in aid of One Family and Kids for Kids, 2 victims of terror in Israel organisations. Choosing these charities to run for was not a difficult task- I lost 3 cousins and their parents at the Sbarro Pigua 3 years ago. I would be most appreciative if you could send the attached e-mail to your list; either as an individual e-mail or as part of the Matzav. I really would be most appreciative.

Wishing you a Shana Tova,

Dani Schurder (Schijveschuurder)

Dear Friends and Family.

I hope that this e-mail finds you well. I am writing to you for a very special reason. Come the 7th November, I will be donning my running shoes in order to conquer the New York Marathon. I will be running jointly in aid of One Family and Kids for Kids; two charity organisations dedicated to providing support for Victims of Terror in Israel.

Tragically there are an ever increasing number of shattered lives. Each and every person that experiences terrorism, even those who have been “lightly” injured, is deeply affected and is in desperate need of financial, psychological and medical help. One Family aims to help rebuild their shattered lives. Shattered by the loss of a family member murdered in a terrorist attack, or a close friend. Or maybe they themselves have been hurt. Sometimes it is enough that terrorist attacks happen in a kid's neighbourhood to give them nightmares, or fears, or sadness. Kids for Kids aims to be there to help them and provides a reprieve from the stresses of being under fire and the threats of daily violence. To learn more about these wonderful organisations please check out their respective websites at: www.onefamilyfund.org and www.kidsforkids.net.

Choosing these Charities to run for was not a difficult task. Unfortunately, having lost my cousins: Ra’aya, Avraham Yitzchak and Chemda, together with their parents Mottie and Tzirah Schijveschuurder HY’D in the Sbarro Pigua in August 2001, I can personally attest to the sterling work of both these charities, and the wonderful and caring way they set about their unenviable task. Running in the marathon thereby raising much needed funds is my way of saying thank you and helping our brethren who have suffered so tragically these last 4 years.

Please support me to help support those in need. We will never be able to give back to the victims what they once had. But we can provide significant help in an endeavour to ease the lives of those who need it most. Please could you make checks/ gift vouchers payable to One Family. One Family will then give half of all donations received to Kids for Kids. Ideally I can accept donations in any currency at my home address:

[Home address deleted. CiJ]

Alternatively, you can donate online via the secure One Family website from the attached link. If following this option, please could you ADDITIONALLY endeavour to do the following 2 things:
a) In the comments section please add the following or equivelent comment "I am specifically donating this money in aid of Dani Schurder's marathon run- Danischurder@hotmail.com".
b)Please send me an e-mail telling me how much you have donated.

This will enable me to be able to personally thank you and to keep an accurate record of how much has been raised. On behalf of all those whom your donation will assist I thank you.

Dani Schurder
The first thing that happened after I posted that email to my Matzav list was that I got another email from one of my closest friends in New York offering to house Dani for the weekend of the marathon. I have no idea whether Dani is still doing this, and I'm now kicking myself for the lost opportunity: when Mrs. Carl and I went to London in January, I walked down his street at least four times a day on the way to and from synagogue. This will have to wait for another time.

The point of this post is to remember at least some of the Sbarro victims and to remind all of you that terror attacks don't end when the victims are buried or even when the perpetrators are caught and (hopefully) punished. May the memories of all of the victims be blessed....

(Disclaimer: One Family was started by one of my wife's friends...).

And now I hope you will all forgive me if I go study some Torah so that I can make a siyum (a celebration for finishing a tractate of Talmud) in my mother's memory tomorrow morning. I hope to post again sometime tomorrow morning.

1 Comments:

At 7:22 PM, Blogger prof said...

hello
chana tova a tous!
ecrivez a de grandes personnalites sur Poste
shalom
marcel
jewisheritage

 

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