Six and a half years ago my son and daughter-in-law found a cake waiting for them on their doorstep. Attached to it was a supportive note* that subsequently hung on my refrigerator for months. The impetus for that cake was the grisly murders of their neighbors, Rut and Udi Fogel and three of the Fogel children, Yoav, Elad, and baby Hadas in Itamar. The cake and other similar expressions of support made my family understand that they were not alone in their grief. So when the email recently went out on the Shilo list offering to take gifts to the people of Neve Tzuf I didn’t hesitate to prepare a cake tray.
Neve Tzuf has been hit hard this past year. In November Arab arsonists from a nearby village set fires that destroyed seventeen homes and damaged dozens more. It was miraculous that no lives were lost. Following the terror, for it was a terror attack, promises were made of additional security but those assurances were not all kept. And then last month another Arab terrorist made his way into Neve Tzuf.
Spurred by hate he’d trained himself by butchering animals. Disguised as a Shabbat observant Jew he took the same road the arsonists had taken. Finding an unlocked home he quickly ruined the Shabbat peace of Neve Tzuf. Stabbing over and over he succeeded in murdering Yosef Salomon, his son, Elad, and his daughter, Chaya. His wife was seriously wounded.
|Yosef, Chaya, and Elad Salomon, courtesy of zalmanpartisans|
According to my acquaintance who lives in Neve Tzuf, the people there are angry, feeling that the army and government are not there for them. And, of course, there’s the grief and fear to deal with. On a positive note, though, she told me that they were very touched and felt supported by the cakes, plants, and notes received there from their fellow Jews. They understand that the attack on the Salomon family was not an attack on them alone nor only on their community. Rather it was a national attack and they are currently in the forefront. Like my son and daughter-in-law six and a half years earlier, they know that they are not standing alone.
A month has passed since the murders and for many it’s a dim memory. For the people of Neve Tzuf, though, it’s seared into their consciousness never to be forgotten. We are now marking the new month of Elul, the month proceeding Rosh Hashanah. During our prayers marking the beginning of the new year we will affirm On Rosh HaShana it is inscribed and on Yom Kippur it is sealed: How many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live, and who will die; who at his predestined time, and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by hunger, and who by thirst, who by earthquake, and who by plague, who by strangling, and who by stoning, who will be at rest, and who will wander about, who will have quiet, and who will be confused, who will be tranquil, and who will be tormented, who will be wealthy, and who will be poor, who will fall, and who will rise up. But repentance, prayer, and charity can annul the stern decree.
I pray that this year will be the year that it will be signed and sealed that there won’t be any terror attacks. I pray that I will bake and send out many, many cakes but they will be only for happy occasions. I pray that this will be a year of true peace.
*Dear Family! We, the Greenfields (not the real name) from Sderot want to support you in your difficult time. It is known that the Land of Israel is obtained with painful tests, and in each period there are those that pay for these tests with their lives. It is important to us that you know that your pain is our pain and with G-d’s help we will merit the full redemption, and your happiness will be our happiness. May we hear only good news, may you have salvation and comfort.