Shahar Azani
Storyteller, Strategic Consultant & Former Israeli Diplomat . A Jew.

Every Person Has A Name

“It was for this reason that man was first created as one person, to teach you that anyone who destroys a life is considered by Scripture to have destroyed an entire world; any who saves a life is as if he saved an entire world.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5) 

January 17, 2016. Dafna Meir, of blessed memory, a nurse and a mother of 6, was brutally murdered by a 15-year-old Palestinian, who stabbed her multiple times, in front of her screaming children. He then went home to watch a movie.

Sadly, Dafna z”l is not alone. Over time, too many Israelis have found their death in cruel acts of cowardly terror, perpetrated by blind hatred. Each of them has a name, a face, a story. Many of them accompany us, Israelis, as we move on with our lives, remembering the fallen, those who were taken just because they were Jewish. Just because they lived at home, in Israel. Suddenly, we have an urge to get to know them, to know what we were missing, whom we were missing, and since we can no longer do it in life, we get acquainted post mortem.

One soul. An entire world. Indeed. It seems as if each such story revealed to us is a fascinating one, more than worthy of another episode, one which will never be written. How could we have missed it when they were alive? we ask ourselves. Such was the story of Dafna Meir.

Today I want to share with you part of her story, as it was told over the weekend in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonot (by author Yifat Erlich, who was enchanted by Meir’s life and decided to write her biography). As one reads Dafna’s life story, one cannot remain indifferent to her uniqueness in this world.

Dafna loved writing, and wrote quite a lot. to her husband, her friends, her children. She had a difficult childhood, and emerged a loving mother, who, together with her husband Nathan, cared and nurtured 6 children: 4 of their own and 2 foster children. She was a nurse who took Arabic lessons to be able to communicate with some of her patients. She was an extraordinary woman.

And this is what she had written to her daughter’s (Ahava) teacher:

“Dear Teacher A., wishing you comfort and joy,

Thank you for the update and for teaching our sweet Ahava. I am sure you enjoy her. As for homework, this is whats going on at our home: if a child opens a book and a notebook and starts scribbling, and then comes to me with a specific question, I am more than happy to help with what I am able to assist with. And if not, then I don’t. I am a mother and not a homework police officer. As far as I am concerned, my children are the ones who need to bear the consequences of not doing their homework.

I provide them with warmth, love, a roof over their heads, appropriate clothing, free time, books and anything else required to study, should a child wish to do so. And I am paying for private tutoring. Beyond that, it is up to them. … As far as I am concerned, anything you choose to do about my daughter’s education, study and discipline is welcome and will be fully supported here, at home. However, I will not help you “get her” to do her homework. Please keep me posted”.

A famous Israeli song tells us: Lechol Ish Yesh Shem – every person has a name. A story, a life, which they leave behind for us to observe and learn from. To spend our time here with. To let them live through us. This is one of those illuminating stories.

May Dafna’s memory be a blessing, along with that of all those who were taken by the sheer evil of terror.

Every person has a name
that God gave him
and which his father and mother gave him

Every person has a name
which his height
and the style of his smile gave him
and which his tapestry gave him

Every person has a name
which the mountains gave him
and which his walls gave him.

Every person has a name
which the star signs gave him
and which his neighbours gave him.

Every person has a name
which his sins gave him,
and which his longing gave him.

Every person has a name
which his enemies gave him
and his love gave him.

Every person has a name
which his festivals gave him,
and which his work gave him.

Every person has a name
which the seasons gave him,
and which his blindness gave him.

Every person has a name
which the sea gave him,
and which his death gave him.

DafnaMeirDafna Meir z”l

About the Author
Speaker, Author, Strategic Consulatant. Past Northeast Executive Director of StandWithUs. A Former Diplomat for Israel's Foreign Ministry in London, Jerusalem, Nairobi, Los Angeles and New York. A Storyteller, who's passionate about people, culture and politics.
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