Shira Lichtman

DROR: Running for Empowerment

Tomorrow many people will be running through the streets of Beit Shemesh. This time it won’t be political. These runners will be supporting a worthy cause while commemorating the lives of Rikki and Racheli Menorah A”H.

The first funeral I ever attended shouldn’t have been. Rikki and Racheli were too young to go; it was too great of a loss. They were killed in a plane crash along with their grandfather and cousin. Yossi, their brother, was the sole survivor of the accident.

It took me a long time to wrap my head around this tragedy, and I’m not sure I’ll ever reach a full state of comprehension. There are too many unanswerable questions coupled with fierce anger and entrenched in agonizing pain.

I knew Rikki and Racheli from my neighborhood. I bumped into them in the school hallways, occasionally sat near them in shul, and once even spent a Pesach vacation together in Tiberias. My last conversation with Rikki was about a History exam we were both taking. We wished each other luck and parted with words for a good summer.

Who would have known that only two short weeks later I’d be standing by Racheli and Rikki’s graveside in the scolding Beit Shemesh summer heat, hoping this was all a horrific dream. Or that on my way to shul on Friday night I’d be stuck trudging through the thicket that enveloped the streets of Beit Shemesh; instead of a gleeful “Shabbat Shalom” greeting I’d be nodding to people in the street with a knowing glance and a mournful tear. Who could have dreamed up a reality as cruel as this one?!

My feelings are strong and quite unbearable which is why I prefer avoiding the topic altogether. Thankfully, Sima Menorah, is a much stronger and braver woman then I will ever be. When I saw her for the first time after her daughters’ death I stood there trembling. “Don’t cry!” I scolded myself. “You can’t be suffering half as much as she is. Contain yourself!” I ordered. But I couldn’t. And Sima gave me a hug, a sympathetic smile and told me that all would be okay.

WHAT?! It was my job to offer consolation. How was she able to get her act together? How was she able to function? I can’t understand but I’m in awe. I’m in awe of a woman who finds empowerment in the face of tragedy. A woman who is working in an effort to increase light in this world, compensating for Rikki and Racheli’s lights that would have shined so brightly, were they still here.

DROR, Derech Rikki v’Racheli, is a non-profit organization established in the memory of these two precious girls. Dror in Hebrew means sparrow. The sparrow is mentioned in Tanach as a free bird; one that cannot be held back.

“DROR was formed in order to help girls achieve success in school through assistance in education and sports. It’s all about empowerment for girls – at Dror we believe that with the mind and body operating at optimum, the sky’s the limit.”

Visit their website here to find out more about DROR. Stop and think about what holds you back from accomplishing your goals. Perhaps you’ll be inspired, like I was, by Sima’s initiative. Now take this feeling and go empower yourself and those around you to achieve greatness.

May the memories of Rikki and Racheli be blessed.

About the Author
Shira Lichtman is Israeli, contrary to common misconception; She grew up in Beit Shemesh with her parents and seven younger siblings; She works for the secret services and therefore cannot disclose any further information regarding her current occupation and mysterious future plans, which are so secret that even she doesn't know them ;-)
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