building the land, Eyal Yifrach, funerals, Gilad Shaar, Gush Etzion, Naftali Frenkel, Nefesh B'Nefesh

Not Boxed In

We all have boxes that we check off when something bad happens. I assume a psychologist would tell me that it’s a coping mechanism and that it’s human nature to do so. Someone is killed at 10 pm on a busy street next to a movie theater and you think in your mind, “Well, I’m never out past 9:15, and I don’t go to the movies, and I stick to side streets….” and suddenly you’ve managed to dismiss the recent murder as something that has happened to someone else, but that won’t happen to you.


But for us, here in Gush Etzion, there are no boxes to check this time. This is certainly one of the things that is hitting the Gush Etzion community the hardest about the murders of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. 

Well, we can say to ourselves, my kids wouldn’t be out at 10 pm. Can’t check that box. 

And my kids don’t tremp. Can’t check that box. 

Well, my kids don’t live anywhere near where this happened. No check.

And, well, my kids aren’t teenagers. No check.

There isn’t a single box that we can check on this one because this terror struck in our backyards. To our boys. Right at home.

So, when this happens, and there is no psychological way to alleviate your fear and your anxiety, what do you do?

You can pick up and move, but nothing would make the terrorists happier.

You can hide in your house forever and keep your children there (extremely tempting but unrealistic). 

Or you can look to the inspiration of others and find hope, comfort and unity in their words.

One of my friends, Zahava Bogner, recently posted this to her Facebook page:

“Food for thought: back in 1997, within a few weeks of moving to Fairfield, CT from NYC, someone tried to abduct my then-3-year-old daughter seconds after she wandered from my grasp. No one, and I mean NO ONE, ever (EVER!) had the temerity to suggest that we pack up and leave Fairfield for ‘safer’ quarters. Bad things happen not because of where you happen to be, but because there exist some people with bad intentions, and the will and the means, by which to inflict harm on others. It is therefore up to the rest of us to balance the scales with act of kindness, with prayer, and with good deeds.”

And then there were the words from Rabbi Yehoshua Fass today, the co-founder of Nefesh B’Nefesh. This nonprofit assists thousands of people to come on Aliyah each year (full disclosure, my husband works for NBN).  Below is part of what he wrote in a letter to friends and family, and the link to the full letter is here.

“This morning I received an email from an individual who is scheduled to make Aliyah in the coming weeks. In response to the news, they voiced their concerns about safety and were actually having second thoughts about their Aliyah plans. Although I try to be sensitive in my correspondences, I could barely contain myself. This is precisely the time to come home, I wrote. We must show our brothers and sisters in Israel that we literally (not just figuratively) stand with them; and it is imperative that we declare to our enemies that nothing – nothing – will deter us from returning to our homeland and fulfill the destiny and fate of the Jewish people. 

Our generation has been blessed with the miracle of the creation of the State of Israel. For two thousand years, we have longed, prayed and dreamt for this moment. But we live in a constant struggle over our existence in this land. We have shed many tears and we have sacrificed greatly. But we will, with God’s help, continue to build our Holy Land, to raise our families here, to educate our children, to fiercely advocate and aggressively protect our people and hopefully fulfill Hashem’s will – and view each moment as a privilege and treasure.”

In the last 24 hours, after attending a wedding, taking our second son to a vigil for the murdered boys at midnight, and then attending the funeral in Nof Ayalon, my husband delivered a Teudat Zehut (Israeli identity card) to an old friend who got married on Sunday. 

He wrote on his Facebook page, 

“I can’t think of a better way to honor the memory of our boys than by celebrating weddings and welcoming new immigrants to our amazing country…we will persevere and we will remain! #rememberourboys Am Yisrael Chai!!”

Another Olah. Another body joining us here in Gush Etzion and setting up her life here, with us. 

In the Gush, a new community has already been started called Givat Oz-Gaon as a Zionist response to the murder of our boys. Gaon stands for Gil-Ad, Eyal and Naftali. 

The numbers are still out, but tens of thousands of people attended the funerals today for our boys. 

picture at funeral in Modiin by Laura Ben David

We are a nation united in our grief, outraged and sickened by our loss and by the savages that perpetrated this indescribable crime, and committed to staying. 

And building.

And continuing with our beautiful lives here in the hills of Gush Etzion in the Land of Israel. Because they would like nothing more than to run us into the sea, as they’ve attempted to do time after time.

But this is our home and our history and our people.

And we will honor Gilad, Naftali and Eyal by learning, as they did; smiling and loving our families, as they did; doing charity work and good deeds, as they did; and by setting roots here on our land with our bodies and souls.


Romi Sussman
Neve Daniel, Israel

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