“I had imagined you would eulogize me,” Rabbanit Chana Henkin said Friday morning as she stood by the body of her son, Eitam, and his wife, Naama, who were murdered the night before as they drove home with their four children after a visit with friends.
Looking out at the thousands of mourners who had gathered in the parking lot of the Har Hamenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem, Chana recalled seeing her 31-year-old son just the day before.
Standing on a small makeshift stage that had been set up under the hot noon sun, she described how the extended family had gathered just 24 hours earlier at Eitam and Naama’s home in the West Bank settlement of Neria, hanging out in the house while the children played.
“We said goodbye, yesterday, leisurely, with happiness and smiles. And then you were killed. This parting is very hard,” said Chana.
To her right, under a small, makeshift tent, the shroudwrapped bodies of Eitam and Naama lay on stretchers on the pavement.
The couple fell in love very young. Chana recalled that Naama – bright, beautiful, capable and modest – was just 18 when she and Eitam met.
“Eitam and Naama, you found each other very early. You built a house. You brought four children into the world. You did everything right and then you were killed because of your love of the land of Israel,” she said.
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A talented graphic artist, Naama ran her own business that had just started to receive international attention. She also was a loving mother to her four small sons, Matan Hillel, Nizan Yitzhak, Notah Eliezer and Itamar.
Just last Shabbat, Chana said she had told Naama how amazing it was to see the special connection she had with her youngest son, Itamar, who was only eight months old.
“You listened intensely to a son who thought you were the most important person in the world,” Chana said at the funeral, adding that Itamar, who is still nursing, “won’t remember his mother’s love.”
Chana, who heads Nishmat, a woman’s seminary in Jerusalem, said she, too, had a special connection with her son, Eitam – a scholar of Jewish religious studies – the two shared a love of learning.
So many of her memories, she said, were of the two of them learning together and discussing questions of Jewish law.
“We shared a common language of Torah,” said Chana.
Eitam already had published a book on Jewish religious law in his 20s, and a second book on the laws of Shabbat is ready to be published, she said.
“No one believes that you are so young,” said Chana, who called him modest, honest and filled with joy.
Police are still searching for the terrorists that killed the couple as they drove home from the Itamar settlement.
Rescue workers found Eitam and Naama’s bullet-riddled bodies in the front seat of their car, while the four children in the back miraculously survived. But there is scant public information as to how the incident unfolded.
“We are facing a brutal wave of terrorism,” President Reuven Rivlin told the mourners. “And you are at the front lines – paying a heavy price.”
Naama’s mother, Hila Armoni, told the mourners that nothing had prepared her to eulogize both her daughter and her son-in-law.
“Who would have believed that just last month we celebrated your 30th birthday,” she said.
From the moment she heard of the attack, Armoni said, she didn’t understand why both of them had been killed. Then she understood.
“In their life and their death they were never apart,” Armoni said, adding they had a strong connection from the moment they met even though they were young.
Twelve years ago on a Saturday night, she said she and her daughter were driving on Route 5 when they heard gun shots from an attack on the road.
“Naama, as usual, was on the phone with Eitam,” she said. They stopped the car, got out and lay down on the ground on the side of the road. The army came and the incident ended safely.
“But the whole time, the phone was open and Eitam heard everything. When it was over, Naama spoke to him and said, ‘Eitam, everything is fine, nothing happened to us.’”
“Unfortunately, this time the bullets hit their mark,” Armoni said.
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