She Was. A Jewish Baby.

Chaya Zissel Braun z”l should not have the letters z”l after her name. She should be fussing in a carriage, smiling at her mom and dad or soiling a diaper. Baby things. No, she should not have the abbreviation for “of righteous memory” after her name.

She was a baby. A baby. Killed at the hand of terror. At the age of three months. The child her parents struggled to bring into this world.

Three boys this summer, a baby this fall, more souls added to the list of infants and children, boys and girls, killed at the hand of terror. What we wonder, what we fear, what we pray will not happen, is whether more innocents will die, suddenly, without warning, because an angry man believes that a random act of brutality will somehow make his world better. She was a Jewish baby. The hope of her parents and one more link in the future of our people.

How can the yearnings of a mother and a father be snuffed out so casually, so randomly, in the heart of the Jewish homeland? How can we keep burying our children? This summer we buried four-year-old Daniel Tragerman z”l, the youngest Israeli victim of the war with Hamas. And, once again, we opened the ground for our soldiers, so many young soldiers. But now, right now, we mourn for a baby girl.

From the four corners of the earth, the people of Israel, the nation of Israel, grieves.

Here’s a meditation in Chaya Zissel’s memory, adapted, for her, from my “Meditation on the Burial of a Young Child” which written after the massacre at Sandy Hook. The original was written for use by parents and family members of child victims, while this version is written for all to use specifically in Chaya Zissel’s memory. Here’s a link to a yizkor prayer called “They Were Boys,” written for Gil-ad Shaar z”l, Naftali Frenkel z”l and Eyal Yifrach z”l.

Prayer for Chaya Zissel Braun, z”l
Dear Chaya Zissel,
Your hands were so small,
Your skin, so smooth,
Your smile, as bright as sunlight.
You had so little time,
You had so much to do, to discover, to see.
A whole life to live.

Oh grief,
Oh loneliness and sorrow,
The grave that holds you is so small,
This moment, dark with despair.
And still, your smile echoes our hearts
Your face shines in our eyes.

G-d of compassion,
Grant the family of Chaya Zissel Braun
The wisdom to be gentle with each other
In these hours of grievous loss.
Lead them on the path to hope and renewal
So that they may become a well
Of comfort and support for each other.

G-d of All,
Grant a perfect rest among the souls of the righteous
To Chaya Zissel who has gone to her eternal rest.
May her memory be sanctified with love.
May her soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.

Meditation on the Burial of a Young Child” is © 2014 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

About the Author
Alden Solovy is the Liturgist-in-Residence at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. A liturgist, poet, and educator, his teaching spans from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem to Limmud UK and synagogues throughout North America. He's the author of “This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day” and has written more than 750 pieces of new liturgy. His new book, "This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings," was published in 2019. He made aliyah in 2012. Read his work at