Mercaz HaRav, Segev Avichayil, terror attack

Cucumbers, Memories and Pain

On March 7, 2008, Neve Daniel woke up to an SMS on our cell phones. When I read the Hebrew message, it simply didn’t make any sense and I assumed that my issue was with my poor Hebrew.

It was not.

The message stated that the funeral would take place that afternoon for Segev Avichayil and it provided other details. It simply didn’t make any sense.

What funeral? What could they possibly be talking about?

When I called my neighbor to ask for a translation, he offered me the same translation that I had already made for myself. And then, holding back tears, he said that he had to get off the phone and figure out what was going on.

We would soon learn that a terrorist had stormed into the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, just as the boys were finishing their learning and preparing for a party to usher in the festive month of Adar, when Purim falls.

We would soon learn that we had lost one of our very own Yishuv members, a 15 year old boy named Segev P’niel Avichayil.

I didn’t know Segev’s parents before the massacre and I haven’t gotten to know them since. They are extremely quiet, unassuming people, and I can’t imagine what they have endured.

Their daughter is in my son’s 4 year old nursery class, and I often want to cry when I see the mother, Moriah. I wonder, to myself, what she must experience on a daily basis and what it means for her to carry on.

So, today when I saw her in the grocery store in the Yishuv, I gave my cursory smile and moved on with my typical heavy heart.

And then, as I was buying apples, I heard the news program come on the radio. Usually, the grocery store plays music, but today they had some type of a talk show on instead. And as I selected my produce, I heard them mention the Mercaz HaRav massacre in the context of the recent tragedy in Itamar. As they slowly said the names of the 8 boys who were murdered in the Mercaz HaRav shooting, I dropped my apples and stood there…paralyzed.

What in the world, I thought to myself, could Moriah be thinking right now? She had come to the store to get cucumbers, cheese, apples and bread; did she really need to be reminded at absolutely every turn of her son’s murder? Was this what life was like after such a horrific event?

I left my cart and my groceries, and started to look for her in the store. In retrospect, I have no idea what I was going to say, but I felt that I needed to see her and that I needed to make sure that she was alright.

It’s not a large store.

She was nowhere in sight.

I did, however, find her half-filled cart abandoned in the aisle.

The names may fade for many of us.

The individual acts of terror may become a blur.

But for those who are affected; for those who endure unspeakable loss, even the act of buying cucumbers becomes loaded on a daily basis, forever, with inescapable memories and pain.

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