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Friday, November 17, 2006

Humanizing Israeli terror victims

Most Israeli terror victims are anonymous to most of you. You don't know or recognize their names. You know nothing of who they were (or are if they survived the terror attacks in which they were caught), what they did, who their loved ones were (are) and how they are getting along dealing with their loss. I've been going back and forth about this via email with YID with LID all week, and we are trying to put together some sort of blogroll that will bring the terror victims home for all of you. Not just names and faces, but life stories. Last night, Anne at Boker Tov Boulder posted the story of Yosef Lepon, who was a terror victim nine years ago. The story was written by Yosef's mother, Shoshana. I had heard of Shoshana before, because she wrote two books that are favorites in this house: one about the ten plagues of Egypt (which my 21-year old knew by heart by the time he was 3! We own two copies - one for Passover and one for the rest of the year) and another about the ten tests of Abraham that I picked up on a trip to the US a couple of summers ago. But I didn't even know that Shoshana lives in Israel (not surprising), let alone that her son was a terror victim:

Shoshana Lepon: His Hands Upon Us ~ previously published in Heartbeats; Jewish Writers at Their Best, Edited by Shoshana Lepon & in Hadassah Magazine, Feb. 2001

Mothers often criticize their teenagers about the crazy hours they keep, the friends they choose, and what they decide to eat, drink, wear, and do. But you won’t hear a negative word out of me. I am a mother who appreciates that every moment with her son is a gift.

I’ll never forget the call. My husband and I had just walked through the front door of our home in Jerusalem’s Old City when the phone rang.

“Mom,” I heard my son groan. “It’s Yosef... I’m all right.”

“You’re all right?” I gasped (not having imagined otherwise). “Where are you?”

“In the hospital. I got stabbed.”

Stunned that our son had become a victim of terror, my husband and I raced to Hadassah Hospital. For most of the ride we sat in silence, engrossed in our separate thoughts and fears. Words could not communicate what was going through our minds. We got to the hospital just as they were rushing Yosef into the operating room. There was no time for us to consult with anyone about his condition or to hire a private surgeon; the emergency-room staff had to work quickly if they were to save his life.

We spent the next few hours in the waiting room, praying that our son would pull through. We still had no idea what had happened. I found myself staring at the operating room doors, willing them to open. As time passed without relief, I got up to pace the corridors and recalled with irony that it was in this very hospital that Yosef was born. Who would have imagined that child being rushed back in critical condition, seventeen years later?

At last, the head surgeon came out and led us to his office. “My name is Dr. Simcha,” he said as we shakily took our seats, and at that moment I knew it was going to be all right. I knew we wouldn’t hear bad news from a doctor named “Simcha,” the Hebrew word for “Joy.”

The doctor explained that our son had been stabbed in the lower back, and the knife had cut into one of his kidneys. The stabbing was bad enough, he told us, but when the attacker pulled the knife back out it caused even more damage. When Yosef reached the hospital, they did a series of X-rays and hurried him into surgery. They opened him up, stopped the bleeding, but could not save the injured kidney.
I'm going to tell you to go to Anne's blog and read the whole thing, but since I know I have a lot of Israeli readers, I want to highlight the end of the story for you in case people don't follow my advice and read the whole thing:
UPDATE: It is now almost 9 years since the stabbing. Yosef is married, has a young baby, and needs a job. He is a talmid chacham who loves to teach and is confident in one-on-one tutoring and teaching bar mitzvah boys and sofrus. He would greatly benefit from a full-time position in the Beit Shemesh or Jerusalem area. If you can help, please write to me. It would be a great mitzvah.


At 1:40 PM, Blogger Kranky (in the civilized world) said...

Hi Carl:

A thought for right before Shabbat.

I was flying back from a conference yesterday, thinking of how the palis have effectively won the media war by recruiting MSM or providing MSM mouthpieces. It occurs to me in general that the victims are dehumanized. Jews are made out to be the criminals and the palis who killed them, are victims in some wierd Orwellian reversal of logic.

What I found made the arguments better was being able point to murders and attacks in a known forum. Someone enterd Tali Hatuel's case on wikipedia. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tali_Hatuel

I have used this in many discussions with those formerly sympathetic to the murderers. I might suggest that everyone who knows someone who was murdered, enter their story, and the circumstances around it. Tell the world, put it on record. If the world judges that we still are the aggressors, then lets make the crime fit the punishment. But until then, lets tell the story. Lets make sure it gets out there.

If this is unpalatable, start a victim_of_terror.org site with media wiki, and put the stories of every single one of the victims up. Has to be in English for it to be accessible.


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