idf in jenin 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
"When a chair is empty on Pessah eve," says Yitzhak Boussidan, "it is tough to be at home." Boussidan is not referring to the chair traditionally left empty for the Prophet Elijah.
Palestinian terrorists killed Amit, Boussidan's son, while he was trying to evacuate a wounded fellow soldier from a Palestinian refugee camp near Jenin on April 9, 2002. Like every year since his son's death, this Pessah Boussidan will join others who would otherwise have one too many empty chairs at home.
Some 160 people will meet at the Etap Hotel near Kiryat Shmona for a Pessah Seder organized by NAVAH (Non-profit Association for Volunteering and Assisting the Hurt), a support group for terror victims. The retelling of the Exodus narrative will mingle with other stories of pain, loss and survival.
Zion Buskila lost his son Eliran on June 5, 2002, in a terrorist bombing that killed 17 people near the Megiddo Junction. The attack was intended to coincide with the anniversary of the beginning of the Six Day War.
"The Torah says, 'And you shall tell your son on that day,'" says Buskila, quoting from the Haggada. "But my son is no longer with me. The Seder is a constant reminder of that."
For Boussidan, the most painful part of the Haggada is the Four Questions.
"How does this night differ from all other nights?" asks Boussidian rhetorically. "My son is no longer with me."
Tehilla Friedman, who founded NAVAH with her husband in 2001, felt the best way to help those affected by terrorism - bereaved families and those wounded in terrorist attacks - would be to bring them together. Despite the group's success, however, this was the first year the group has not been able to meet expenses, she says.
"There is no need for psychologists," says Friedman. "Our guests raise each others' spirits."
Boussidan says of the night's significance, "Each of us lost a part of ourselves. A foot. An eye. A son. But no matter what they try to destroy, they cannot destroy our souls," she says.