‘Street smarts’ saved wounded victim

Messianic Judaism community "in shock"; praying for recovery of tour guide stabbed in brutal attack.

kristine luken 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
kristine luken 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When Kay Wilson realized that the long, serrated knife hadn’t reached her heart, she stayed still and pretended to be dead, waiting for the attackers to leave.
But her hiking companion, American Kristine Luken, 46, who had also been horrifically stabbed, couldn’t stop crying. The attackers turned back and killed her.
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“[Wilson] has a huge amount of street smarts, that’s what saved her at the end of the day,” said Wilson’s friend David Pileggi, the director of Christ Church in Jerusalem’s Old City, whose organization runs Shoresh Tours, which provides study tours for Christians traveling in Israel and Eastern Europe.
Wilson is a frequent tour guide for Shoresh, specializing in the Second Temple Period.
Wilson recounted Saturday’s terrible events in the hills west of Jerusalem when she spoke with Pileggi by phone on Sunday morning.
Wilson and Luken met in 2007 when both were participants on a study tour called “Walking with Jesus in His Jewish World,” run by Shoresh and CMJ Israel, an organization that promotes Messianic (Christian) Judaism.
Following the 2007 tour, Luken left a 16-year career at the US Department of Education and joined the staff of CMJ in England.
Luken lived in Virginia for many years before moving to Nottingham, England, where CMJ’s offices are located.
“Kristine had said she loved hiking in Israel, and Kay said, ‘Come on, let’s go,’” Pileggi recounted.
“Kristine was very much like Kay, very vivacious, very popular,” Pileggi said.
The two went hiking on Saturday afternoon in the hills near Mata, midway between Tsur Hadassah and Beit Shemesh. The area includes part of the Israel National Trail and is a popular weekend destination for families. They brought Wilson’s small brown dog Peanut, who often joins Wilson’s tours and is very popular with clients. Peanut was found, unharmed, by rescue workers on Saturday night.
Wilson came to Israel from Great Britain at age 16 with a very strong Zionistic identity, and is one of Shoresh’s most popular tour guides, Pileggi said. Wilson is also a jazz pianist who plays small clubs in Tel Aviv and has given lectures on the impact of Jews on jazz.
“She endears herself very easily to people, and she’s one of the best spokespeople for Israel that I’ve ever met, explaining the country, undermining the core of anti-Semitism, and giving people a balanced understanding of very complicated political situations,” Pileggi said.
The CMJ community was stunned by the tragedy.
“We’re a community, we’re not only in shock, we’re in mourning,” Pileggi said. “We’re praying for Kay’s improvement and speedy recovering, and working to do everything we can to help her and help [Luken’s] relatives.”
Luken is survived by her parents and siblings.