I’m sitting alone by my computer, reading about a woman I will never get to meet. Before social media, Dafna Meir would have remained a name on a list for most of us. But the internet brings her own words, and the words of the people who loved her, into our separate homes. Tonight we are holding an improvised online wake for a woman few of us knew. And as we mourn Dafna Meir together, we are no longer truly alone.
Dafna Meir was many things for many people. She was a dedicated nurse. She taught women about fertility and contraception, sexuality and health, from a holistic point of view. She shared her medical and religious knowledge with other women, through her blog (in Hebrew) and in private conversations.
For five and a half years, Dafna answered anonymous medical and halachik questions through Kolech, helping women balance modern life, Jewish law and medical concerns. “I tried to enter the head of the person asking the question,” she wrote in a touching Facebook post in 2013, when she passed the mantle to new volunteers. “I tried to check what’s the central issue that requires an answer, what’s the question’s essence, so that I could answer the details and clauses in a way that would enable the woman who asked the question to find the answers within herself.”
Dafna didn’t stop sharing her knowledge when she stopped volunteering for Kolech: Many women consulted her, online and in real life. They recall, tonight, how she always made time to answer them thoroughly, and with what we call in Hebrew “maor panim“: a welcoming, lit face.
Dafna was also a wife and a mother. She gave birth to four children and became a foster mother to two others as well. This evening, as the night descended on the hills around their home, these children watched Dafna bleed to death on her own doorstep, after a terrorist stabbed her and ran.
When people argue that attacking settlers is a legitimate form of national resistance, I want them to think about the nurse who lived in a settlement, and approached all of her patients, regardless of their religion and nationality, with a smile on her face. I want them to think about the woman who composed and recited this special prayer before handing out medicines:
May you, the Creator of the world… grant me the privilege of giving medicine to those of your nation, Israel, who are in need of deliverance, as well as those of other nations.
I want the people who call terrorists “freedom fighters” to think about Dafna, and her children, and the world of good she will no longer do.
*I took the liberty of translating Dafna Meir’s words into English, even though my translation doesn’t do them justice.*