Fighting for Life in Har Nof

November 19, 2014

5 min read


When my grandson and son-in-law got caught in the line of fire.

Yesterday at about 7 a.m. my daughter Miri called with news from my grandson.

"Mordechai just came home from shul. He said that Arabs came in and are shooting, and that a man with an axe is hitting everyone. Some of the people threw chairs at them, but it didn't help."

My 12-year-old grandson had hit the floor along with everyone else when the bullets began to fly. He was fully aware of what was going on, and what it meant.

He somehow found the courage to let go of his father's hand, crawl towards the exit and break into a run.

Mordechai is blonde, freckled, and a soft-spoken somewhat introverted and studious boy, much like his father, Shmuli. He is not Huck Finn, and the courage he found at those moments were a gift straight from God.

By the time he finished telling Miri what happened, sirens from Hatzalah ambulances, police cars, and Magen David could be heard telling her that there were casualties.

"Where's Shmuli" was the thought that entered her mind again and again as the seconds, which felt like hours, began to tick. She called me and said, "Say Tehillim (Psalms). There is shooting in the shul." I began to say the ancient prayers. Nothing was reported yet on the news. Of course not. It was only 7:10.

When Mordechai came home, the shooting was still happening. By 7:20 we both realized that if she didn't hear from Shmuli, something was very wrong.

The police and other services had no information as yet to give to the public, but a family friend who had seen the terror with his own eyes, said that Shmuli had been taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

Apparently, when Mordechai let go of his hand, he instinctively ran after the child, placing himself in the sight of the terrorists. One of them attacked him with an axe, hitting him on the head, back and arm.

Somehow he made it to the door. Josh White, a yeshiva student, was riding down Agassi Street on his bike. He noticed a lot of confusion in front of the shul and asked someone what was going on. He approached the shul and saw Shmuli, who was still aware. The student took off his shirt and stopped the bleeding, a move which may have saved Shmuli's life. The shooting was still happening inside. It was about 7:15!

The emergency crew drew back, but because Shmuli was already outside, they evacuated him, thus making him the first of the wounded to be taken to Hadassah, another factor in his survival. Before collapsing, he asked where Mordechai was, and when told that the boy ran away from the carnage, he said, "Baruch Hashem."

Inside, the terrorists were continuing their "work." When they entered, they turned to their left, and immediately cut down Rabbi Moshe Twersky and Reb Kalman Levine who were standing in the corner.

Reb Kalman was not a regular attendee of that synagogue. He would generally daven in the earliest possible minyan so he could get in a couple of hours of Jewish study before beginning his day.

But on Tuesday he had a question about something he had learned, and had gone to put the question to the synagogues erudite Rabbi Rubin. The question will now only be resolved in the Heavenly Academy.

In the course of unfolding events, Mordechai was urged to speak about what he saw again and again in order to diminish the damage of the trauma he had undergone.

We were allowed to see Shmuli who was put under anesthesia. We don't know if he heard us or not, but we were talking to him, stressing that Mordechai was fine.

In the hours before the surgery, we found ourselves with Risa Rotman. Her husband, Chaim Yechiel ben Malka, was also attacked, and the extent of his wounds are very serious.

Every day in the Land of Israel is a gift and a miracle. I have no pretensions of knowing God's will, but I do know that everything He does is purposeful, and that His compassion is often hidden from the human eye. Anyone who values human life, reality, and the eternal nature of the soul is appalled by the idea of people entering a synagogue and randomly killing innocent people.

Except for CNN, which for a time reported the entire event as an attack on a mosque.

Except for BBC, which reported that Israeli police "killed two Palestinians" (i.e. the murderers), as if victims of Israeli brutality were strolling through scenic Har Nof when attacked by racist troops….

Please continue praying for my son-in-law, Shmuel Yerucham ben Baila, and the other victims.

Pray that God gives strength to the five new widows and 24 new orphans.

Thank God that we are not like our enemies.

And please post the truth however you can.

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