Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Remembrance Day for Little Girls

Two weeks ago today Israel commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day, with a siren and official ceremonies to remember the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis in World War II.

One week ago today, Israel commemorated Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and terror victims with a siren and official ceremonies to remember those who fell in defense of Israel.

Today, the 11th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, is the second anniversary of the murder of Tali Hatuel and her four daughters, Hila 11, Hadar 9, Roni 7, and Merav 2, z"l. They were gunned down as they were driving from their home in Gush Katif. Their ceremony will be a private one, but we should all remember them just the same.

In this war that isn't a war, their "battleground" was the family station wagon.

In this war that isn't a war, their "defense" was their innocence. In most of the civilized world people don't target women and children and kill them in cold blood. In this case their innocence wasn't enough to protect them.

When Jews refer to someone who has died, we usually put the letters z"l after their names. This abbreviation stands for "zichrono l'bracha" in Hebrew, which means "his memory should be a blessing". It is customary to memorialize a person by giving charity in their name, so that this verbal wish is realized practically, and that blessings really are brought into this world in connection to the person who is no longer with us.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the details of the conflict between the Jews and the Arab terrorists in the Middle East, and are confused by both the deliberately distorted moral equivalence put forth by the media and the dust kicked up by the anti-Semites, here it is in a nutshell.

There is a qualitative difference between the two sides in the conflict, and can be summarized simply in a way that is short enough for a sound byte.

Look at the reaction to senseless death, and how the dead are "memorialized".

The Arab terrorists react to senseless death by calling for more senseless death. They exhort their followers to become suicide bombers, and they dress their babies in bomb belts.

How do the Jews react to senseless death?

Look at David Hatuel, the husband and father who lost everything dear to him two years ago. If anyone has the "right" to call for revenge and could be forgiven for doing so, it is David.

He didn't do that. First, he rebuilt his life and remarried a few months ago. Second, he set up a memorial fund in memory of his wife and daughters, that gives money to infertile couples so that they can undergo treatments that will hopefully help them bring children into the world. He thought that this was the most fitting memorial to them, because in addition to the other things his daughters may have done with their lives, getting married and bringing up Jewish babies would have been central.

How do Jews react to senseless death? By bringing forth more life.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to your quality link I see she was a social worker who worked with families of terror victims, too. Her bumper sticker said, "Uprooting the settlements. Victory for terror."

Reminds me of the Christian schoolgirls in Malaysia who were beheaded. And the school in Beslan. Every non-Muslim is a potential target of their terror (which they don't even call "terror").

This is a humbling reminder that our responsibilities to the dead do not outweigh our responsibilities to the living. Thank you.

3:28 PM, May 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your uplifting thoughts on such a tragic day. Know Hope!

5:04 AM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Wonderful and timely reminder. My husband and I, who watch public television here and therefore feel obliged to support it, cancelled the watching and the support when the public broadcasting radio affiliate, NPR, covered the Hatuel massacre by excusing these deaths because they were 'settlers.' We not only cancelled our membership but wrote detailed letters condemning the outrageous immorality of justifying the butchery of 4 girl children and their pregnant mother.

We've never forgotten the Hatuel family, z"l.

8:46 AM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger Jerusalemcop said...

great post.

thanks WBM

12:53 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

jeremayakovka - one of the things that drew me to Orthodox Judaism was the combination of high ideals with practical, down to earth actions. Remembering the dead by doing good deeds for the living is just one example.

annonymous - thank you for your good wishes.

aliyah06 - they really justified that? I'm in shock.

jerusalem cop - thank you.

2:17 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger bec said...

since it happened, i have often thought about the hatuel family and the tragedy that occurred. i think that for many, acts of terror such as this, have served as a deterrent for either considering aliyah or visiting israel. people don't realize that if more families would just go over, there might be fewer incidences of terror (or at least, this is what i believe.)
you make a really good point:"How do Jews react to senseless death? By bringing forth more life."
i think that this simple answer is one of the keys to the survival of the jewish people. in spite of everything, we've never given up hope for our future, and our future generations.
really a poignant post.

10:13 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Yes. They did. The female radio correspondent talked about the shooting of a car containing "a female settler" and her "passengers" driving through 'occupied Gaza'--no mention that it was a pregnant woman with four small children on her way to a prenatal appointment and rendezvous with her husband. We were outraged.

You've heard what NPR stands for, haven't you? "National Palestine Radio."

3:46 AM, May 11, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

jack - thank you.

bec - after 9/11 I don't think even Americans can delude themselves into thinking that there is a country completely safe from terrorism

aliyah06 - no, I had never heard of NPR being called that. Then again, I have never listened to NPR!

11:24 AM, May 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WBM: Victims of terror attacks usually have the HY'D הי"ד after their names instead of Z'L.

Still, that leaves revenge up to G-d...not to us.

4:41 PM, May 11, 2006  
Blogger cruisin-mom said...

I love the way you have succinctly expressed the two very different ways of responding to life and death.

5:15 PM, May 11, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

annonymous - why is that put there instead? I would think that the z"l is much more meaningful.

cruisin-mom- thank you.

7:10 PM, May 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this (ages after it was written) and just had to say that you made a big generalization. Not all Arabs responds to death by calling for more death, and it is unfair to generalize as that. The majority of my friends (and I am Jewish) are Arabs - a number are Arabs whose family-members have died in Israeli rocket attacks - and not a single one calls for more violence. Stereotypes should not be promoted, they are just stereotypes and they lump the (majority population of Arabs) ones who love peace in with (the loud minority of Arabs) those who promote violence and hatred.

4:41 PM, July 17, 2011  
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