It is Difficult To Write About Tears

May 9, 2009

9 min read


Victims of terror are not just 'injured'. Their lives have been shattered and irreversibly changed.

I am afraid to think about it. I am afraid to begin writing. For with every word, every memory, every image, the devastating truth becomes a reality once again. A reality which exists for thousands of our Jewish brethren every day.

I recently went on an Aish mission to Israel where we visited terror victims. We started at a hospital in Tel Aviv, to meet victims who were maimed and had lost loved ones -- not by accident or disease -- but by sheer, deliberate hatred.

Right away I noticed a girl sitting on the couch. She appeared young and was speaking on a cell phone. She was completely burned, her face unrecognizable. Initially it was shocking and hard to look at her. I was afraid to stare, yet I was drawn to her. She exuded life underneath all the pain. Her name is Kinneret. She has the biggest, brownest eyes, and is so beautiful, inside and out.

Kinneret and her parents sat next to me and we started to talk. She was initially self-conscious but warmed up quickly. I wanted her to know that I cared, and yet I could not pretend to possibly understand what she has been going through.

Four months later Kinneret awakened. She suffered severe burns on 60 percent of her body.

She told me that on that fateful day at a small Tel Aviv caf?, she wasn't supposed to go to work, but one of the waiters who is a soldier was called into duty and she went to cover for him. Soon after she arrived at work, an Arab terrorist wearing 20 pounds of explosives packed with nails and screws came in and detonated himself in the middle of the caf?. As a result of the velocity of the explosion, Kinneret flew back a few feet and does not recall much more.

Paramedics had to resuscitate her four times. Four months later Kinneret awakened. She suffered severe burns on 60 percent of her body. Her lungs collapsed, her skull was fractured, and she had lost the vision in her left eye. She is only 24 years old and has another two years of intense burn therapy and a lifetime of physical and psychological battles ahead of her.

She seemed baffled and in disbelief regarding the bombing. Why? How could they? What did I do? I can't understand it. Don't they have a heart?

Her mother had asked a Palestinian woman, a mother to one of the terrorists: How could you send your child to kill himself and murder innocent people?

The Arab woman replied, I have six other children and I will send each and every one of them to do the same!

Kinneret's mother wondered how to tell her child that we are dealing with an enemy who isn't afraid to send children to die.


Tamir, a bright-eyed 19-year-old man, was injured while working at an Israeli checkpoint. An Arab terrorist drove his car into the checkpoint, causing an explosion. Tamir suffered similar injuries to that of Kinneret. They are a source of comfort to one another. We have similar injuries. We understand each other.

Moments later, Tamir bent over in his wheelchair gasping for air, experiencing intense spasms. When I worriedly suggested calling a physician, he gathered all the strength he had, looked up and said, I'm okay. They can't help me. I get this a lot. The pain killers can only do so much.

Tamir was more concerned about making me feel comfortable than attending to his pain. I sat there next to this brave and courageous young man, feeling helpless, angry, bewildered and pained. Here was a once young, strong soldier, now reduced to an overly thin, sickly man, a shadow of his former self.

The media categorizes them as injured. But they will never truly recover.

Kinneret and Tamir are among the thousands that CNN, The New York Times and every other media outlet lump into the category of injured. But people like Kineret and Tamir are not simply injured. They have been maimed, with lives shattered and irreversibly changed. They will never truly recover.

During that week we visited many other victims. They all had a story to tell and all have cried an ocean of tears. In one family, the father, who had been "lightly wounded" in a terror attack, has since been out of work. With no money and three young little children to feed, they are desperate.

The mother told us, "The bank cancelled our credit cards." I was shocked, paralyzed. How would I feed my children? I broke down and cried and begged them not to do that. I have never had to beg or cry in public, but we have been reduced to begging. I have young children to feed, and I find myself tossing away any shred of pride. I have no choice. I wish I didn't need to ask for help, but I do.


Ilana is a lovely mother of 10. She lost her youngest son in a car accident a few years prior to losing another son to a homicide bomber. She was having difficulties staying at her home -- too many painful memories -- even though she still had eight children. She periodically leaves the house to get away for days at a time.

When we came to visit, she walked me to her living room window and pointed to the hill across from her house. It's a cemetery," she said. "There is my son's grave." Since the terror attack that took her child, her whole life is that cemetery.

At the hotel I sat with a family who had lost eight family members in one night. They were eight siblings. Shlomo, their brother, died that day with his wife Gafnit and their two children, Shiraz and Liran. Ronit, one of the sisters, had lost her one-and-a-half- year-old daughter Oria and her 11-year-old son Lidor. Ezra, one of the brothers, lost two of his sons who learned in a yeshiva, Shauli, 15, and Eliyahu, 17. The entire family suffered extensive injuries in addition to their debilitating emotional problems.

I was left shaken inside and out. I didn't know what to say.

Ronit, the mother of two young children murdered by an Arab terrorist who exploded himself at a bar mitzvah in Jerusalem, gave me a memory book with pictures of her children and poems written in their memory. Here is one of the poems:


By Ilan Goldheerash

The heart pinches and the throat feels choked
And the tears fall down like rain
And you do not see a thing but dust
And who of us even knows what to say.

Cold winds enter the house
The bitter truth knocks on our faces
And in the air a silence too difficult to bear
And there is darkness inside the corners of our eyes.

It is so difficult to write about tears
It is difficult to carry the silence
It is so difficult to sing about tears
Where can we find solace?

A big shadow sits right across from you
A black cloud envelopes the sky
You shake and you tremble from within,
You walk and walk, without ever arriving.

For if only we can find strength to overcome
For if only we can find words inside the shock
So many words want to be told
And every word gets swollen inside the silence.

It is so difficult to write about tears
It is difficult to carry the silence
It is so difficult to sing about tears
Where can we find solace?


The people we met expressed that we are all soldiers of the Jewish people. Our babies, our wives, our old and young, are being killed simply because we are Jewish. And someone has to stay on our land. They do not plan to leave, for if there is no Israel, our people will have no land to call their own, especially in time of need. Throughout our 2,000 years of exile, the Jewish people had no place to go in crucial times of survival. We were persecuted and rejected and barely survived. Today we have a Jewish homeland. It is every Jew's personal responsibility to assure its survival.

It is every Jew's responsibility to assure the Jewish homeland's survival.

No Jews can afford the luxury of standing on the sidelines. We must share in the suffering of our people. It is not "out of sight, out of mind." The survivors, the dead, each and every one of them is real, tangible and a part of who we are.

Many of us ask ourselves, What can I do? Plenty. Let these people know you care through a letter, a phone call, and a donation -- whatever you can do. Rally on their behalf. In truth, it is on your behalf as well.

All Jews are targets. We must not become complacent, removed and detached simply because it is too painful or too hard to believe. Yes it is painful, but pretending it is not happening is the worst thing we can do as a people.

The Talmud says that each Jew is responsible one for another. Let us be inspired to unite and strengthen ourselves in the oneness of the Jewish people. "Shema Yisrael" -- Just as God is one, so is the Jewish people.

For names and addresses of Jewish victims of terror, please contact Esther Nicoll at

To make a donation to terror victims and their families, go to

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