Seven days in hell

By Naomi Ragen

Translated from an article that appeared in Yediot Ahronot on June 4, 2002

A week has passed since the murderous terrorist attack in Petah Tivka, ending the Shiva (seven days of mourning) of the Peled family for grandmother Ruthie and granddaughter Sinai, who were murdered next their table outside a bakeshop in the heart of their own neighborhood.

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By Naomi Ragen

Translated from an article that appeared in Yediot Ahronot on June 4, 2002

A week has passed since the murderous terrorist attack in Petah Tivka, ending the Shiva (seven days of mourning) of the Peled family for grandmother Ruthie and granddaughter Sinai, who were murdered next their table outside a bakeshop in the heart of their own neighborhood. Seven days the family sat in the home of Ruthie and her husband Natan, in the gardens of Herzliya where they used to gather every Shabbat to eat Ruthie’s delicacies and horseplay with the next generation: Yam and Gal, the children of Lee and Boaz; and Sinai, Lior and Chen’s baby daughter.

In the course of the week, Chen asked forgiveness from her father again and again for not yet being able to fully mourn her mother because her whole being was still centered on mourning her baby, an indication of this singular family’s powerful bond. “I’m like a lioness who’s lost her cub,” Chen says, weak from the spasms of grief that rock her fragile body every few minutes. “Instead of screaming without stop, I talk, I explain. Sometimes I think ‘Those poor people who have to listen to me’ because someone who hasn’t experienced this hell can’t exactly relate to the descriptions. The last thing I’d want is for people to say I want publicity. I don’t want anything. Just my baby.”

Lior, her husband, uses words less, his mouth and jaw still recovering from visible wounds. But one thing is very clear to him: “Anyone who is not willing to return to normal is with us. Anyone who feels differently, isn’t. It’s impossible to return to normal, and it’s absolutely out of the question that Sinai turns into just one more number in the statistics of death.”

When they left the hospital they returned to the scene of the tragedy and were horrified to find with what speed the blood stains had been cleansed, the tables changed, the glass fixed, the stores reopened, in order not to miss even a single day of business. On their way to Herzliya, they stopped off at their apartment, closing all the windows of the nursery in order to hold in the baby smell that still permeates it from the baby girl they called “Boo-boo.” That night, Chen slept in her mother’s bed, resting her head on her baby’s clothes. That way, she says, I can be with both of them.

Chen gravitates constantly between grief and anger. “We are a people that refuses to understand, ” she says. “The last scene in front of my eyes when I left the hospital was an Arab family that sat across from me: mother, father, a toddler the age of Sinai, and a three-month old infant being rocked in its mother’s arms. It’s a surreal and impossible situation in this country: They enjoy the rights of loving care, and I can’t even take a walk with my own child in my own neighborhood. I voted for Meretz (note: a far-left, Peace Now party). I always said we don’t need those damn territories. Now, we have to understand once and for all that we made a mistake and admit it. But we are a nation that refuses to understand, like the Jews they brought to the gas chambers who until the last moment still thought they were going to take a shower.”

“We don’t have to wait for the mega-terrorist attack everyone is talking about. Why don’t we just look at our situation and act as if it’s already happened? The people of this country will do everything they can to maintain the completeness of their illusions.

My mother taught me to love people, and I can’t hate. Forget human beings, I can’t stand to see an animal suffer! Just last week I laid Sinai down early so I could work on an animal rights web page. Maybe if I could hate it would make things easier for me. I’m sure that “Boo-boo” smiled at the terrorist as he stood in front of her. She smiled at everyone.”

Until a week ago, life also seemed to be smiling on the Peled family. “My sister and I are best friends. “We realized our dream to live next to each other and bring up our children together with the same love and closeness in which we were raised. People would sometimes raise their eyebrows when they nursed each other’s babies. “But we celebrated every day,” Chen’s sister Lee says. “Every day we waited for the moment we’d come home from work so we could be together.”

Now, many people fill the house in Herzliya. Sometimes, with the garden tables under the umbrellas filled with refreshments, it seems like the old days, when Ruthie was the generous and tasteful hostess. “Only last Shabbat, ” says Natan Peled, the young grandfather whose world has been shattered, “we sat in the garden and took videos of Ruthie feeding the cats together with our grandchildren.”

After Chen and Lior furiously condemned CNN for giving a platform to the terrorist’s family in which to air their views, and simultaneously misconstruing their own words, they received many messages of support. Someone told Chen she should be put in charge of Israel’s information efforts abroad. Meretz Knesset Member Ron Cohen came to comfort them. They got a telegram from Yossi Sarid. They read and cry, but Chen’s hard questions remain.

“In the last month, ” she says, “I was walking around really depressed, without any reason. My sister Lee is going to be a Shaliach in the States and that scared me a little, but that wasn’t the reason. I felt instinctively that a tragedy was building and coming closer. For a month already I’d been saying to Lior: ‘Let’s get out of here until things calm down.’ And Lior said: ‘In January 2003, we are out of here.’ Today, I know that a mother needs to go with her instincts.”

In front of their open door stand parents who have come to comfort them. Chen moves from her seat when she recognizes who they are: the parents of little Danielle Shefi from Moshav Adura, who was murdered in her crib by a terrorist a month ago. Chen begins to cry, her body folding and slipping to the floor. She tells her father: “This is the mother of that sweet child who was murdered. When I saw her picture in the paper I said to myself she looks so much like our Sinai.” Father Natan walks over to the couple and says, his eyes filling with tears: “God. What you must have gone through! Not to be able to save your child!” And Danielle’s father answers: “I’m at the point where the pain is so great that I can’t hold it inside anymore, it wants to leap out. We mustn’t go back to normal until we see that together with the pain, we’ll also release a great light.”

Chen wants to say something else about her mother Ruthie: “I know what wonderful good fortune it was to be born to a mother like her. We three children, myself, Lee and Udi our brother, were her life’s work, her great project. Only she knew how to get me out of bad situations, or situations I thought were bad. When I’d hide in my room, she’d open the door, come in and talk to me, not letting me sink. She was so gentle, so caring.

“She wasn’t a well woman. But since the grandchildren were born, there wasn’t a day she wasn’t with us. For 24 years she suffered from kidney disease. She took care of herself, put herself on a strict health-food regimen. But for us, she cooked everything. The only pampering she allowed herself was good coffee. She was a coffee aficionado.

“On the day of the terrorist attack, she went to Rambam to check if her brother was a suitable kidney donor for her. She called, a little depressed, and asked if she could come over. I said: ‘What kind of question is that?’ And she said, ‘Good, then I’ll come a little early and we’ll go out for coffee.’

“We sat in the bakery, even though the tables are small and the owner was grousing as usual. We called him “Grumpy.” Let’s go to Grumpy’s, we’d say, because he has good coffee. If Cafe Bravissimo had had more interesting coffee, maybe Mom and Sinai would still be alive.

“When the motorcycle crossed the square, bringing the bomber, my gentle mother said: ‘How can he ride like that with all those exhaust fumes! Do the children need to breathe in all that pollution?’ You understand what was bothering her a moment before? Afterwards, it turned out that her body absorbed all the shrapnel meant for Lior and me.

“Sinai’s last look was one of pleasure as she enjoyed the taste of the soda Lior gave her to taste. The poor kid was fed only healthy foods and would run after the other kids bags of junk food. I screamed like a broken record. I don’t remember if I saw Mom or Sinai first. Mom was lying under the table and I felt sure she was gathering her strength. Afterwards, people barred me from seeing the baby. They wouldn’t let me see her, and then they pushed me into an ambulance.”

One thing doesn’t leave her. “When they brought me to the emergency room, a song stuck in my head that we heard on a tape on our way home from a vacation to Eilat. Sinai was sitting calm and happy in her car seat in the back. I never stopped singing it. It was ‘Children are Joy,’ from the band The Natural Choice. The doctors thought I’d lost my mind.”

© Israel My Beloved




The PLO was instituted in 1964 three years before the six day war in June 1967 when Israel, in a war of self-defense, recovered the so-called “West Bank”, now seen and proclaimed by nearly everybody as the quintessence crux of the Middle East problem.
This however shows that the PLO (All Palestine needs to be liberated) was not formed to erect a Palestinian state on the ‘so called’ West Bank but was instituted to replace all of Israel with a Muslim Palestinian State.

A Word From Zion

The New Testament Basis for the Restoration of Israel

Jesus was asked by His disciples whether He would restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, to which He replied:
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.