The Wednesday Ritual

87

Yitzchak (Isaac) and Talia Emes, 47 and 45 years old, recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with their six children, the oldest 24, the youngest 5. The family was looking forward to a golden anniversary in 25 years.

They studied together in the former Soviet Union, emigrated to Israel and built a home. Many of their friends are Russian-speaking. Despite economic difficulties, they did not complain but focused instead on building and giving.

Every Wednesday, Yitzchak came to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, his area of expertise, a love and focus of his activities. He was part of a group of friends for whom saving the Temple Mount and restoring Jewish worship there was a way of life. This week he changed his weekly practice and traveled to Jerusalem on Tuesday instead.

On Wednesday afternoon he returned to Mount Olives overlooking the Temple Mount, the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount and the sealed Gate of Mercy in its center. The Gate was sealed half a millennium ago by an Ottoman ruler who wanted to prevent the coming of the Messiah, for it is believed the Messiah will arrive via this gate.

Yitzchak and his wife Talia were blessed with many friends and a close-knit community. More than a thousand people gathered around them to ensure they would not be alone as they traveled their last journey together.

Still together in death as they were in life, Yitzchak and Talia, may the Almighty avenge their blood, were brought to their final resting place on Mount Olives in Jerusalem. In Israel one is buried covered in shrouds, unlike the USA where one is buried in a coffin. Their 19-year-old daughter spoke, her voice breaking down into a cry several times, promising that her brothers and sisters would not be without a mother and a father.

I am certain, her parents were watching from the Third Temple in the heavens and were proud. Not because of the reporters and cameras, looking for a sound bite and a photo-op, but the true essence of life emanating from far below.

Talia and Yitzchak drove with two other people: 24 year old Avishai Shindler, married just a year ago, and 37-year-old Kochava Even Haim (Stone of Life) who had just concluded a meeting with the parents of her kindergarten class as it was the night before the start of the school year.

The four, Yitzchak and Talia, Avishai and Kochava were driving home when a car accelerated and passed them, shooting at chest and head level. More than 38 bullets were fired at them. The four were pronounced dead at the scene.

Kochava’s husband is a volunteer at ZAKA, the search and rescue organization that rapidly responds to any terror attack, accident or disaster and is known for collecting body parts in these events to bring them to proper burial. He responded to the call and found his wife among those executed.

Hamas terror organization, the democratically elected, true leader of the Palestinian people in their struggle to rid the Middle East of Jewish presence, immediately took credit and celebrated the terror attack. They stated this murder would be followed by a stream of similar attacks throughout Judea and Samaria and would clearly demonstrate their influence and control have extended beyond Gaza, despite “efforts” by the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli defense and intelligence establishment was caught off guard. There was no information that may have indicated a terror attack was being planned or about the one that would follow less than 24 hours later in much the same manner.

Four people were just executed. The usual condemnations followed, from France, the USA and even the Palestinian Authority (PA). You see, these executions are disturbing not because of the actual senseless act of taking lives, but because it is a simple matter of inconvenience for the PA.

It is also somewhat damaging to the PA’s pretense as a “moderate” element. It shows Hamas as the true Messenger and representative of the Palestinian people. Much like Hizbollah is the savior and protector of the Lebanese people, and only it can properly execute whatever is necessary to help the people of Lebanon against the Jewish aggressor, so here, Hamas wields the power, the clarity of vision and the determination to win at all costs.

Such condemnation stops short of being anything but lip service. It is void of any true meaning since it is uttered to only Western ears and aims to refocus the attention toward the true goal: increasing the international pressure on Israel to make further concessions, specifically the right of return for millions of Palestinians and the recognition of Jerusalem as Muslim Palestine’s eternal capital.

While Israel is losing ground and seems to be shrinking in size with each new concession, the Palestinians are gaining legitimacy at an ever-increasing pace. Soon they will declare, to the cheers of the world, the formation of Palestine among the member-nations.

Do Israelis care? Were droves of Israelis at the four funerals yesterday? Are Israelis listening to the Hamas message whose delivery system involved four dead young people? What is the focus of discourse in Israel 36 hours after this horrific event?

As the second day of the new school year starts and parents walk their children to school this morning, the only indication is the headlines in the major print papers. These will be read and then the paper put aside for recycling. So will the news for it is neither new nor unusual. At the funerals, other than reporters and politicians, heads were covered by knitted yarmulkes, while mainstream Israelis were noticeably absent. This absence spoke volumes.

Why the lack of interest? Is the blood of the slain not calling to us all from Mother Earth where it was spilled or from the heavens to where the four executed victims ascended? Is no one listening, seeing or realizing what is happening?

The world is immersed in a “new” peace process that has been going on for almost twenty years. Over this period, it has become clear that the Palestinian leaders do not want peace. Neither in word nor in action do they show any interest in peace or even the slightest effort to move in this direction. They are engaged in a war to destroy the Jewish State and will stop at nothing short of achieving this goal. In the meantime, they continue to gain progress.

The Palestinians reap the world’s sympathy as Israelis pay in blood. While the Palestinians murder, Jews argue among themselves. Surprisingly, most Israelis no longer care and even justify what has occurred, since these are “Occupied Territories.”

Such blood of “Settlers” is permissible, in fact-punishment is in order and justified. Even Israel’s more outspoken defenders, like Prof. Alan Dershowitz of Harvard, do not consider this a terror attack in their compilation of statistics of acts against the Jewish State since it occurred in “Occupied Territories.”

I stood amidst a thousand mourners, glancing every once in a while toward the sealed Gate of Mercy on the mountain. This House of God that has turned into a center of Terror and Hatred, the Al Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount. A celebration of life turned into a culture of death, with the world a willing participant.

The Turkish Sultan 500 years ago did not have to worry or take steps to prevent or delay the arrival of the Messiah. The Messiah will certainly not arrive any time soon while Jews and Israelis themselves become willing participants in the battle against the Jewish State in the Land of Israel.

You ask what you can do? Pray for the lives and safety of the 320,000 Jewish men, women and children in Judea and Samaria, the heartland of Israel. A place where God and Country intermingle, where values like family, mutual responsibility, giving, taking care of others’ needs as a community, respecting elders, education and seeking to live life as a good and decent human beings meld together.

May the four slain innocent souls so abruptly departed from among us now guide our steps as we battle to save the Jewish State along with the Western World and the rest of humanity as well.

In the series “Postcards from Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related – the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts – and so is this “point – counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.