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 young† boys 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.†
exactly how it is here.
My personal connection to the Otniel tragedy is that my son , Boaz, is a
first year† student 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 heard† that the boys had been murdered whilst I was in shul.† I
had to decide whether to tell Boaz or not.† Although I† was 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 hospi
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
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.Ē† Boazís face was set in a
stony stare.† He continued to make his phone calls.
Boaz and his friend
left that evening, first to the hospi
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.† Gavriel† was 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
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
tradition.† Elaine ,
Gavrielís mother held herself
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 strength† as 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.