Most of us expect miracles at Chanukah and our senses are attuned to noticing them. For the Rubin family, however, their miracle happened after Chanukah was over. It was in 2001, a period in Israel that was marked by almost daily terror attacks. In the month of December alone a total of thirty-seven Israelis were murdered and over two hundred and fifty injured. There had been three major terror attacks and Hamas had claimed responsibility for all of them.
The Rubin family, like most Israeli families, was trying their best to deal with the terror and still lead normal lives. Chanukah had the five children home for the whole week. On the last day, December 17th, David Rubin had a dentist appointment in Jerusalem, an hour drive from his home in Shiloh. Being a good father and supportive husband, he asked his wife, Lisa, if she wanted him to take any of the children with him. She probably would have sent all of them and enjoyed some quiet time but the three oldest, ages seven through thirteen had their own plans. The five-year-old declined the outing stating, “If there are Arabs on the road I’m not going.” That left three-year-old Ruby. He was happy to have special time with his father.
While they were gone Lisa took time to put the house back together. The sun had set and it was dark out. Chanukah was over. She was cleaning the menorahs when the phone rang.
“Where is your husband?” The emergency dispatcher asked without preamble.
“He’s on the way home from Jerusalem.”
“Okay.” He hung up giving no explanation.
Lisa knew something was wrong and was overcome with a heavy feeling of dread. Although she did not put her thoughts into words, even in her mind, she thought her husband and son were dead. What she did not know was that David had, indeed, been attacked and was frantically pressing the emergency call button in his car. Since he was in a spot without good reception, security was having a hard time locating him.
A few seconds later the phone rang again. Thankfully it was David!
“We were shot at but we’re okay. We’re going to the hospital.”
They were not okay, but Lisa’s main emotion was one of thanksgiving. They were alive! Just moments later the Shiloh security head appeared at her door. “I’m taking you to the hospital,” he announced. A neighbor came over to stay with the children.
Once at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem Lisa saw the report of the attack on the news. She stayed calm repeating to herself, “They are alive. They will be okay.” It became her mantra. Her husband and son were already in surgery. The head of Public Relations took her to his office so she could call her family. She also found out the details of the attack.
When they were about twenty minutes from home David heard the popping of gunshots. From his right forty-nine bullets came shooting at his car. He was shot in the leg, but miraculously it was his left leg, and he didn’t need it to drive his automatic transition. The engine had also been shot but somehow, by another miracle, he was able to restart it and drive to the village of Ofra, ten minutes away. He knew once there he would have help. As he drove into the village the motor died and was only restarted when a new motor was installed. It was inside the gates of Ofra that David discovered Ruby had also been shot. The bullet that hit his son’s neck was amazingly just a fraction of an inch away from murdering the three-year-old.
David and Ruby were in the hospital for two and a half weeks. Lisa spent that time shuttling between David in the orthopedic ward, Ruby in pediatric intensive care, and her four children at home. There was a big support group made up of relatives, friends, and neighbors. Lisa kept repeating her mantra over and over. She was so grateful. No one knew better than she how many terror victims had not survived. At that time she was working with the local council arranging tours to meet with those whose lives had been turned upside down by Arab violence.
David and Ruby had the dubious honor of being the thousandth terror victim in the fifteen months of the Oslo war. Initially the PR head wanted to protect the Rubins from the press but that was exactly what David did not want. He wanted the world to know what had happened to him. He wanted everyone to see the personal face of Arab terror. Then and there he began a new career. Instead of teaching high school English he became a lecturer and fundraiser for the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund. He oversees all sorts of local projects that serve the children in the area. Unfortunately, Ruby is not the only child who was a victim of terror. In truth, all the children are victims. Even if they have not been hurt in a terror attack they know someone who was.
Lisa supports David in his work and her career also took a change. She went from visiting terror victims to planning visits and events in Israel. Many of her tourists, under her influence, make helping terror victims part of their itinerary. Ruby recovered from his injury and close call with death. He developed normally and loved playing roller hockey. About a year before his Bar Mitzvah he discovered the joys of learning Torah and became a serious student.
Unfortunately, terror did not end for the Rubin family when David and Ruby came home from the hospital eleven years ago. It continued five months later when two boys from the neighborhood were murdered in two separate terror attacks. With each subsequent attack, be it from rocks, bullets, missiles, or bombs, the trauma is reopened and they have to deal with it anew. There was more trauma when their second son spent six nights in jail as a punishment for protesting Ariel Sharon’s misguided peace plan. The then Prime Minister’s dispersion of thousands of Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and northern Shomron did not bring peace. Rather it brought the opposite, The Second Lebanon War a year later. Two years after that was the Cast Lead Offensive in response to the continued barrage of rockets into southern Israel. This time it was their oldest son who, as an Israeli soldier, put himself in danger to protect the Jewish people.
The Arab terror does not go away. They change their method of operation from time to time but their underlying message never wavers. They are committed to the destruction of Israel, the tiny Jewish country surrounded by twenty-two Arab kingdoms. Now their latest attack was the vote to give the “Palestinian Authority” observer status in the United Nations.
The Rubin family is pleased that the Israeli government’s response is one of building. They pray that Israel will continue to build and grow until the time our enemies finally realize that we are here to stay. Then there will be another miracle. The third Holy Temple will be rebuilt and we will have true peace.