MAYA RAHIMI, Natan Meir and Ofer Cohen (left to right) share personal stories of grief and endurance at IFCJ’s Remembrance Day event in Jerusalem on Monday to honor victims of terrorist attacks..
(photo credit: ICFJ)
Natan Meir, whose wife Dafna was stabbed to death in a January terrorist attack outside the family home’s front door in Otniel with their children watching, says he nevertheless “chooses life.”
He made the remark at a Remembrance Day event in Jerusalem, hosted Monday evening by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews attended by some 50 families of terrorism victims who were wounded or murdered since the beginning of the current wave of violence and who have received guidance and assistance from the fellowship.
“It is the most difficult of all for us, the bereaved families,” Meir said. “The challenge is to choose life, and for this my children and I try to wake up every morning, even when we don’t want to – to choose life, this is our right and our duty, and we thank all those who help us in this path,” he said addressing the other bereaved families.
Ofer Cohen, the father of Border Policewoman Hadar Cohen, who was killed in a terrorist attack at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem in February, said he couldn’t believe that on Remembrance Day he would “speak as a father of a girl who gave her life for the state.”
“Today, when I know the details of the attack, I understand that I raised a unique soul. My daughter Hadar killed the terrorist while saving lives. The embrace of the people of Israel helps us to cope with this difficult situation – I won’t lie, we have no comfort in the face of the huge void left by Hadar, she was a fighter for the people of Israel but for us she was our little girl.
“We receive comfort when we hear, for example, that there have already been four girls named after her,” he said.
Captain Ziv Shilon, who was severely wounded and lost his arm in an explosion on the Gaza border in 2012, spoke of the need to comfort the wounded.
“Great people have to cope with great challenges in this country, and, if we, the wounded, know how to overcome the little things, nothing will stop us,” he said.
Twenty-five-year-old Maya Rahimi also addressed the crowd, recalling how she narrowly escaped when two Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a bus in Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem in October.
“I was saved by the gunshots that began on the bus when I bent over in my seat and prayed for my life,” she recalled. “When I tried to run away, the terrorist stabbed me and I managed to escape alive by a miracle.”
“The fear never leaves; it becomes an inseparable part of your life. To be afraid to get on a bus, to be afraid even of youth walking by you on the street – but the desire is to continue and look forward even when there are ups and downs,” she said.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the IFCJ, comforted the families, saying: “I want to convey one message to you: Nobody can understand and feel the depth of pain that you feel, but it is important that every citizen of Israel feel the depth of the debt we owe you, the citizens and security forces that protect us and experience the pain and heavy price.
“I wish you that from now and forever you will receive significant support from Israeli society and from the government bodies because nobody deserves it more than you,” he said.