Haifa victims' teacher recalls special friendship

Recalls "if one of them needed help, they all get together to find a solution and to help."

The phrase "In life and in death, they were not parted" is a fitting one for the four young women who met their end in a car accident in Bolivia's Uyuni Salt Flats on Thursday. Iris Arad, one of the girls' former teachers, spoke to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday and recalled the exceptional friendship the four childhood friends had shared. "I met them on the school vacation between 11th and 12th grade," said Arad, a teacher at Alliance High School in Haifa. "They were five, and they were getting ready for the school trip to Poland, and I remember how their strong connection impressed me." Arad said the fifth friend, Sivan Magen, had been set to join them on their post-army trip in June. "They had a true relationship, more genuine than sisters share, and they did everything together," she said. "If one of them needed some sort of help, they would all get together to find a solution and to help. They spent most of their time together, and it was clear to me they would go on a joint post-army trip together. Unfortunately this tragedy cut off all their plans and friendship." These were good girls who loved life and did anything that made them happy or brought smiles to their faces, Arad said. "Ortal [Ducas] was the leader of the group," she said. "Her brother is one of my current students, and on Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, he showed me a T-shirt Ortal sent him. At the ceremony, he read the memorial prayer of Yizkor in front of the entire school. When I visited them at home, he told me that he'd had no idea he was reading it in memory of his sister... "Ortal was a friendly person who kept smiling and was the one who made the decisions for this group. Adi [Roseman] was a charming and assertive girl who did everything in a positive way and loved this country. Danielle [Atzmon] was the quiet girl in the group, but wherever she went, she carried seashells with her and was a smiler. And there was Sivan [Budnizky], who was called Budi by everyone, and by me, too - she was the funny one, the comedian who gracefully made her friends laugh." On Saturday evening, Alliance High School administrators decided to open the school to friends who needed a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on. "Many of the girls' friends from high school came and wanted to talk about the great loss," Arad said. "It is just inconceivable to think that we will never again see this group, smiling and laughing and planning."