Letter to The Jewish Telegraph



From Barbara Ordman



For many of you, today will have been the first time that you will have

heard about the tragic events of last Shabbat.It adds to my personal pain

to know that a massacre is only a massacre when Palestinians are killed, but

when our beautiful youngboys are murdered, it merits only a few words in

The Times and nothing at all on the News.I am writing this to you because

otherwise I will be as guilty as my fellow Israelis for not making sure that

you know what is going on here, for not giving you enough information.

Please forgive me if the information is mixed with emotion but that is

exactly how it is here.


My personal connection to the Otniel tragedy is that my son , Boaz, is a

first yearstudent at the army Yeshiva, (Hesder Yeshiva), in Otniel.Last

Shabbat, he was at home with a friend, as were most of his classmates.

Most, but not all.Some stayed at the Yeshiva because it was too far to

travel home,and some because it was their turn to do kitchen duty

especially on this Shabbat when they were entertaining boys from another

Yeshiva. I heardthat the boys had been murdered whilst I was in shul.I

had to decide whether to tell Boaz or not.Although Iwas obviously

greatly relieved to know that Boaz was safe, I was frozen with fear to think

whom of his friends were not.How could I tell him?How should I tell him?

Dr. Spock did not include this chapter in his child-rearing book.


I sat glued to my seat trying to digest the enormity of the news.Shot to

death whilst preparing Friday night dinner.Cold- blooded murder of 4 boys.

7 hospitalized.70traumatized.How would I tell him,being not much

more than a schoolboy himself?Somehow I made my way downstairs and called

him out .I asked if there was still time to say a prayer for sick people.

Clumsily I told him why.


We walked home from shul in stunned silence.Pain etched on everyoneís

faces.G-D, how many more?How many more broken lives?How many more

shattered dreams?


Motzei Shabbat the phone began its relentless ringing.Those who answered

their cell-phones must be alright but why were some of them not answering?

Slowly the nameless tragedy was being named.ďWho?Ē I dared to ask.I let

out a scream.ďOh no, not Gavriel,not Gavriel.ĒBoazís face was set in a

stony stare.He continued to make his phone calls.


Boaz and his friend left that evening, first to the hospital to visit the

wounded and then on to the first of the funerals.Within less than 24 hours

he stood at the graves of 4 of his friends.I joined him only for the last

one.I could not find the strength to travel across the country to hear the

sobs of family after family.But the boys did.They stayed awake to

comfort each other, to comfort the families, to help their Rabbis prepare

their eulogies.Gavrielwas buried last.He was laid to rest in the

beautiful, peaceful cemetery of his home-town of Kfar Adumim,in the Judean

desert.We stood, 1500 of us, on this spectacular hilltop with views of

mountains and desert as far as the eye could see.The afternoon sun was

still shining.The space and serenity were almost tangible. We stood there

quietly,all sharing a common emotion.Eulogy after eulogy followed.

Gavriel had been a very special boy, seemingly an Angel like his namesake.

Rabbi after rabbi recounted his love of learning and his love of helping

others.For more than 2 hours we listened to words of love.Not one person

spoke of revenge.Not one word of hate or vengeance was uttered. No fists

were shaken in the air.No flags were burnt.No guns were shot.


Eventually, Gavrielís father and brothers recited Kaddish, according to

their Yemenite tradition.Elaine , Gavrielís mother held herself tall, and

with dignity, according to her English upbringing.Boaz, and all the rest

of Gavrielís many friends began to sway.Slowly,they began to sing.

Their voices gained in strengthas they escorted the Soul of their friend,

on his last journey, out of this World and into the Next.For a few

precious moments we united and behaved as a true Light unto the Nations.