If Yehudah Shoham were alive today his parents would probably be thinking about plans for his Bar Mitzvah. He might have even already begun his lessons to learn how to chant his Torah portion. But Yehudah Shoham is not alive.
Almost twelve years ago, at five-months-old, Yehudah had been lovingly strapped into his car seat by his parents before they left his grandparents in Ra’anana to head home. About ten minutes from Shilo, as they passed through the village of Luban a-Sharkiya, Arabs suddenly appeared from behind an abandoned building close to the road, and hurled stones at the car. Yehudah was hit in the head by a ten-pound rock that had shattered the front windshield. He was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit of Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. For six days his family, the people of Shilo, and the whole nation prayed for a miracle for Baby Yehudah. And when he died all of Israel mourned.
Luban a-Sharkiya is not a nice place. Fourteen months after Yehudah was murdered, on August 5th 2002, Avi and Avital Wolanski, a young couple with two children and another on the way, were on their way home to Eli. Suddenly Arab gunmen opened fire from the same abandoned building. Both Avi and Avital were murdered and their three-year-old son injured. He and his brother were adopted by their grandparents.
The women of Shilo and Eli had had enough. Why was this building allowed to stand and protect murderers as they attacked innocent children? We demanded that it be destroyed. If not, we would take charge of it. Groups of women gathered there for Torah classes which automatically made the army provide protection. The men joined in the challenge. During the holidays a Sukkah party was held complete with music and dancing. Arabs looked on from their homes across the road but no one confronted us.
We had made our point and for a while the building stayed under the control of the IDF. And then for some reason, perhaps a good will gesture, our government again abandoned it.
That did not mean the terror ended. Many attacks were never reported in the news. Five years after the Wolanski murder, my baby grandson, also named Yehudah, was in the car with his mother. Lovingly strapped into his car seat he was miraculously not injured when a cement block came hurling through the windshield. By another miracle my daughter-in-law did not lose control of the car. I was so thankful that they stayed safe but I was also angry. How many homes had been destroyed in Gush Katif two years earlier and this building was still standing!
When I made my condolence call to Baby Yehudah’s parents twelve years ago I was apprehensive. How could I possibly comfort them? I didn’t. As is often the case, they comforted me. I still remember that Yehudah’s mother stated resolutely that no prayer is ever wasted. She told us that during the six days that Yehudah was in the ICU all the other Jewish children there recovered. She was adamant that the countless prayers for Yehudah helped those children. I also believe in the power of prayers.
Last month there was another rock attack that was reported in the news. Approximately fifteen kilometers (about nine miles) from Luban a-Sharkiya Arabs attacked a car with a mother and her three daughters. Adva Biton lost control of the car and there was a serious accident.
Everyone was injured and littel Adele Chaya is still fighting for her life in the ICU at Schneider Hospital. The whole nation is praying for her recovery.
When I wrote this article it was Holocaust Remembrance Day. As the siren sounded signalizing a time to focus on the victims of the Nazi hate I prayed. I prayed that the world will finally understand that rocks murder. I prayed that just as the world admires the resistance fighters who were in the Warsaw Ghetto they will understand that we, the Jews living in Israel, have a right to defend ourselves. And I prayed for a full and speedy recovery for Adele Chaya Bat Adva. Please join me in my prayers.