As the media and politicians continue to debate whether or not this is a third Intifada; as the streets of Jerusalem, the City of Gold, become increasingly empty at nights, with the hustle and bustle of tourists and nightlife replaced by heightened security and the flashing blue lights of police cars; voices on the right call for retribution and the left call for withdrawal, all I can think about is the 13 new orphans.
“Who will bless these orphans on Friday night?” asked the Chief Rabbi, moments after the 9 year-old son of Eitam & Naama Henkin recited the Mourners Kaddish over his parents’ open grave.
But it’s not just Friday night; it’s every second of every minute of every day. Who will be there for them? Who can possibly replace their loving parents? Who will stand by their side as they anxiously enter first grade? Who will be there when they celebrate their Bar or Bat Mitzvah? Who will proudly watch as they are drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces to fulfill both their civil duty and their parents’ legacy? Who will be there for them? Who will comfort them? Who will support them? Every second of everyday, my heartbreaks for every single orphan and widow left behind.
Thirty-three years ago, I was left behind. I became an IDF widow and a single mother to two young orphans overnight, after my husband fell in a battle to defend our country. While time does heal, the pain will never truly go away and the void will never be filled. Behind every uniform, there is a family waiting at home. Every fallen soldier leaves an entire grieving world behind. My children grew up without their father because he paid the ultimate price for their freedom. This week, Corporal Aharon Bennitta’s family was brutally broken apart, and now his wife and toddler have unwittingly joined a new family, the family of those left behind.
Unlike when I lost my husband, today there is an official organization to support the IDF widows and orphans. We are ready and willing to help them, every step of the way. With the generous help of our supporters worldwide, we are there for them every step of the way. It starts at the Shiva, when we come to comfort them and it continues until the children are all grown up, when we celebrate the birth of their own new families.
Next week, the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization will come together at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem to celebrate the Bar and Batmitzvah of 45 IDF orphans. The same Western Wall that Corporal Aharon Benitta z”l was on his way to, with his wife and child, when he was brutally murdered in front of them, the same Western Wall that has been drenched with the tears of generations of Jews longing to return to the Land of Israel to live as free men.
As death and destruction continue to strike Israeli, together we will continue to bless the orphans.