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Romi Sussman

Life Today in the Shadow of Murder

In honor of Rabbi Dee's request to post a picture with an Israeli flag. Painting by a Sussman child.
In honor of Rabbi Dee's request to post a picture with an Israeli flag. Painting by a Sussman child.

It’s almost impossible to put into words what our community of Gush Etzion (and Efrat more specifically) is experiencing at the moment with the murder of Maia, Rina and Lucy Dee. We live one town over from where the Dee family lives and we don’t know them personally. But in Israel it’s almost impossible not to have some connection to others. Lucy was a loved English teacher in the area and there are many students mourning for her and for her beautiful daughters. Both the girls who were murdered and the surviving siblings run in circles with my kids.

Yesterday morning, we set out on a planned vacation to take two days during Pesach to hike the Israel Trail. We’ve been looking forward to this vacation for months. What a strange experience it was to get in two cars, just as all of the Dees had just two days before, and to head out on our vacation. It was not easy to go, feeling that it wasn’t the time to be enjoying; but we knew that the exact opposite was true. It was exactly the time to be hiking the Land, to be out without fear in our country, and to be enjoying time with family. We understood that this is exactly the message the Dees would want to convey and the actions they would have us take.

But it was not easy. Each time that we parted and got back into two cars, I thought about the decisions we were making. What if something happened to all of the people that I love in the other car? Were our cars balanced with passengers?

I recognized the slight insanity of my thinking, but I also recognized that it was only slightly insane thinking. And that, in itself, was insane.

When we finished the first day of hiking and arrived at our Airbnb, the children went immediately to their phones. I soon realized that they were not surfing the web or looking at social media, as one might assume, but were watching the funeral. They were glued to their screens watching the agonizing eulogies and listening to the never-ending sobs of their peers, while watching the burial of two similarly aged kids from their neighborhood whose stories are much like their own.

How do you reassure your children that they are safe? How do you explain such evil to them? How do you help them through?

I was torn about whether we should have cancelled the trip so that they could be at the funeral.

Today, as we wrapped up our hiking and started driving to a very late lunch, my child in the passenger seat whispered “She died.” I didn’t need any other qualifier or explanation, as we’ve all been begging the heavens to let Lucy live, to let her return to her family and grieve for their daughters with her husband and remaining children.

“She died,” he said in utter disbelief. And I realized that he had missed one funeral – but would be home for the next.

And then the tears which have been flowing off and on since Friday refused to stop.

About the Author
Romi Sussman is a teacher and writer. When she's not at her computer, she's juggling raising six boys ages 13-23 and conquering daily life as an Olah. She enjoys blogging here and on her personal blog at http://aineretzacheret.com.
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