My daughter became a Bat-Mitzvah almost one year ago. Like the same passage into adulthood that my two son’s experienced before her, the memory is seared into a joyous part of my brain that will remain for a lifetime. Tonight, my daughter sleeps in a rustic (putting it generously) cabin with 48 other 14 year olds in Wisconsin. I miss her. She’s my baby – my bud. Tonight, I miss her even more. I want to hug her. I want to tell her I love her. My wife and I worry about ticks. We worry about her brushing her teeth.
Last night, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, an American-Israeli, slept in her bed in the West Bank town of Kiryat Arba. Soundly. Today, she is gone. She was stabbed to death as she slept. She was stabbed by a teenager from a nearby Palestinian village. While she slept. I worry about twisted ankles and mosquito bites in Wisconsin. Ha.
I admit it. I am a steadfast defender of Israel. Am I angry? Do I blame “them”? Not tonight. Tonight, all I feel is sorrow. Sorrow for Hallel’s family. Sorrow that Hallel will not grow to experience life – with all of its challenges and even more of its joy. Sorrow like I experienced when I was literally overwhelmed the first time I visited the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem after having children of my own.
Hallel did not deserve this fate. Did she live in an “illegal settlement”? Did she even “belong there”? Frankly, I don’t care. Nor should any human being with any sense of humanity. No territorial dispute EVER justifies the cold-blooded murder of a girl – a girl only slightly younger than my baby – who lay sleeping.
I don’t know Hallel’s family, yet I cry for them tonight. We all should. The insane notion that the murder of a 13-year-old girl is becoming white noise is upon us. May Hashem help us all. Why are we not outraged, whether she is Israeli, Syrian, Yemeni, Iraqi, Palestinian, American – I don’t care what label. They are 13-year-old girls sleeping in their beds.
How can we make it stop? Make it stop – please!
I miss my daughter. May she sleep well in her cabin in the woods. Soundly. Safely. May all 13-year-old girls sleep soundly. Safely.
-Brian Tauber, Federation Board Chair.
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