Terror victims Rafi and Helena Halevy buried in Kedumim

Ceremony closed to press; Shaked Lisker and Re'ut Feldman z"l buried last week.

kedumim victims 88.298 (photo credit: Shalom Bar Tal)
kedumim victims 88.298
(photo credit: Shalom Bar Tal)
The flowers that Rafi and Helena Halevy cared for bloomed in their garden in the rain. A blessing that no danger enter their house hung on the wall, just inside the door. Inside, family and friends gathered on Sunday to mourn the couple whose laughter and love were cut short by a terror attack outside their home settlement of Kedumim. Rafi, 63, and Helena, 58, were killed along with Shaked Lasker, 16, and Re'ut Feldman, 19, when they picked up a suicide bomber who they believed was a haredi man trying to hitch a ride. The funeral was delayed until Sunday, in part so Helena's relatives could arrive from her native Brazil. In a small alcove off the living room, Rafi's siblings sat overcome by the loss. They said they had always feared Rafi would be killed in an attack. "He [Rafi] wasn't afraid. He drove at all hours," said his older brother Saul. "It's this land, it destroyed him," he said bitterly. But his sister piped up, "He [Rafi] didn't feel that way." He loved this area, she said. Saul recalled how Rafi had reassured them that he was more likely to die in a car accident than in a terror attack. As someone who had good relations with the Palestinians in the area, he did not believe they would harm him, Saul said. As his sister sat on a low chair holding a styrofoam cup of tea, she was still thinking of the funeral. "I don't believe the bodies were whole," said his sister. Saul assured her that they were. "I saw the bodies on television," he said. Saul said he believed they were killed by the fire that broke out after the explosion and not by the bomb itself. After he heard the news, Saul recalled how he had seen repeated clips of the attack on television. "Is that logical?" asked his sister about the state of the bodies. She had first heard of the attack while she was in her Jerusalem kitchen. She began to fear for her brother only when she heard that one of the victims had been involved in security in the settlement. Momentarily choking with tears, Saul told The Jerusalem Post that he had in his head a lifetime of stories and memories of Rafi. He had last seen Rafi at a family gathering three weeks earlier on the anniversary of their father's death. As one who still lived in the family's home city of Safed, Rafi's sister recalled how her brother had always been positive and upbeat. "For him everything was rosy, but his fate was black," she said. Kedumim resident Alisa Franji told the Post that she remembered how Helena, who ran an after-school program, had brought all the children into the local restaurant to buy them felafel. Standing in front of the counter in her family-run restaurant, Franji said she recalled how Helena had stood smiling exactly that same spot only two weeks ago. Since the attack that killed the well-loved couple, she said, she has been more fearful of strangers in their community. Still, she said she felt that she was as much at risk as anyone else in Israel. There were attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, she said. What horrified her, she said, was an anonymous e-mail sent to Kedumim settlers that said, "You deserved this." Hundreds of mourners who came to the Kedumim funeral on Sunday to bid farewell to the couple huddled under umbrellas in the rain as they followed the two pine coffins. As an army officer who had helped move the graves in Gaza's Neveh Dekalim cemetery, Oded Halevy was reluctant to bury his own parents in Kedumim, according to the Walla Internet site. "It was a hard dilemma for him, as someone who saw how the [Gaza] dead were uprooted from their graves and the impact it had on the families of the dead," their daughter Na'ama told Walla. "In the end we all decided, even Oded, that our parents' roots are here in this place near their home and scenery that they loved and were connected to," she said.