The More Things Change …

My 14-year-old daughter Nechama Rivkah is in 9th grade. She is smart, mature, knows what she wants and knows how to get it, beautiful, sociable and innocent. Last night she was too scared to sleep in her bedroom together with her younger sister, so my wife and I allowed her to sleep in our bed.

Nechama was born in the Shaare Zedek Medical Center located in Jerusalem. I believe that the hospital enjoys the reputation of having more annual births than any other hospital in the world. I am proud to have contributed to that. Nechama was born just a few short months after we made Aliyah in July of 2003, my very first child ever to be born in Israel. She was named after another very special person, my Mother-in-law who had just passed away a few weeks before Nechama was born.

The day of Nechama’s birth was her first face-to-face exposure to terrorism.

The chief of the emergency room at the hospital was Dr. David Applebaum ob”m. His daughter Nava ob”m was getting married the next day. No doubt he loved his daughter as much as I love mine. Dr. Applebaum was taking his daughter out on the eve of her wedding at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem when the terrorist, Ramez Abu Salim, a University student and a member of the Hamas terrorist organization blew himself up, murdering Dr. Applebaum, Nava, David Shimon Avizadris, Shafik Kerem, Alon Mizrahi, Gila Moshe and Yehiel (Emil) Tubol. May G-d avenge their deaths.

Newborn Nechama was in the hospital that night. The emergency room was chaotic. More than 30 people were wounded from the terrorist’s blast. Tragically, the very same person who had served in that emergency room, dedicating his life to save the life of others, would succumb to his wounds, as would his beloved daughter.

The leaders of Hamas praised the attack, describing it as a “natural reaction”.

Of course my innocent Nechama was unaware. She was still too young.

She was also unaware of the rule that in order to be released from the hospital, she would be required to have in her possession a gas mask. For safety reasons, hospitals regularly check that parents have a safety car seat for their newborn before releasing them. In Israel at that time, in order to be released from the hospital you had to produce a gas mask for your child.

No need to elaborate that us Jews do not enjoy an especially good relationship with poison gas. During the Holocaust, millions of innocent Jews, men, women, children and infants were exterminated by the Nazis in that most gruesome method.

Already in 1990, Saddam Hussein told Yasser Arafat that he wouldn’t hesitate using chemical weapons against Israel, the very same weapons he had used successfully against Iran.

That was the fear we were living under when Nechama was born. Nechama was unaware. We weren’t.

Just over 3 years ago we were, again, being shot at from Gaza with qassam rocket attacks. This was during the same time which three Israeli teenagers,  Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by Hamas terrorists.

It was a summer afternoon, and Nechama was on her way home. My wife was driving. Nechama’s younger sister was also in the car.

Suddenly, the warning siren which blares before an impending rocket attack was activated. My wife and children panicked. My wife floored the car, hoping to reach our home safely.

And then Nechama saw it. Falling out of the sky, a qassam rocket hit the ground, just a few yards from the car. The blast was earth shattering.

Thank G-d my family reached home safely. It would be awhile before Nechama would return back to her bedroom at night.

In honor of Chanukah, Nechama’s class planned a visit to Shaare Zedek yesterday to visit the sick. They took the public bus to Jerusalem from school.

Just as their bus was reaching the central bus station in Jerusalem, chaos broke out. Police, ambulances, security and emergency personnel.

A terrorist attack. While being checked at the entrance to the bus station a terrorist stabbed a knife into the heart of the security guard.

The “excuse”? Same ol’ same ol’. “Natural reaction”. (President Trump declared US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital).

Yes. Each time we are attacked, in Israel and around the world. It is a natural reaction of those who hate Israel, who hate the Jews. That has always been the underlying reason behind every one of these attacks.

First get rid of the hate.

About the Author
Rabbi Weiss was born in Miami Beach, Florida and served as Chabad community Rabbi in Teaneck, New Jersey for 21 years. He made Aliyah in July 2003 and is the author of "You Come For One Reason But Stay For Another." He is a licensed Tour Guide, father of 12, and resides in Mitzpeh Yericho.