In order to get from my host?s home to the synagogue I had to walk about 3 hours in not too warm weather. However, as far as I was concerned, it was worth the walk.
Well over a decade ago Rebbetzin Gitl Rozensweig made a major contribution to Hebron?s Jewish community, sponsoring the 1929-Tarpat Memorial room in the Beit Hadassah Hebron Heritage Museum. This room, commemorating the 67 Jews murdered in Hebron on that infamous Saturday 73 years ago, is a must stop for anyone visiting our holy city. Understanding the vital importance of such an historic exhibit, Rebbetzin Rozensweig generously funded this room in memory of her late husband, Rabbi Shraga Feival Rosensweig zt”l, from Kitchner, Canada.
Since then, every time she visited Israel, she made it a point to spend a few hours in Hebron. We came to know other members of her family, some of whom live in Jerusalem, and who are also very attached to Hebron.
About five years ago the Rebbetzin?s son-in-law, David Rosenzweig, brought in a number of Toronto Jews, who knew very little about Hebron, but following an intensive tour, became staunch supporters of a strong Jewish presence in the city of the Patriarchs. Before leaving Hebron, he told me of his son Ezra?s upcoming Bar Mitzvah and invited me to attend.
Truthfully, I don?t remember too much about the party, except that it was exceptionally happy, as mostsmachot, Jewish festive events, tend to be. However, what I do remember left a lasting impression. Ezra?s father, speaking to the large group of participants during lunch, insisted on speaking about Eretz Yisrael. Only a few days before two Jews had been murdered by terrorists in Israel, and Ezra?s father made it a point to speak about them, despite his family?s festive occasion. Usually, at such parties, it is not customary to speak of such sorrowing events. As we say, ?There is a time to laugh, and there is a time to cry.? Bar Mitzvah parties are a time to be happy and laugh, not the opposite. But Ezra?s father broke the rule, saying that we must remember what is happening to our brethren in Israel, never forgetting them.
This past Saturday night, Ezra, now almost 17 years old, was involved in a minor traffic accident in Toronto. He called his parents, telling them he was waiting for a tow truck, and not to worry, he?d be home soon. Ezra?s father, celebrating that night his 49th birthday, decided to join his son, and left the house. After meeting, while waiting for the tow truck, the two decided to go into a nearby Pizzeria, perhaps to buy a slice, or maybe to use the phone. Just as they approached the restaurant, two skinheads walked out of it. They had caused a large commotion in the pizzeria, having attempted to stab one of the waiters. Seeing Ezra and his father standing outside, two religious Jews, they walked behind them and stabbed Ezra?s father, David Rosenzweig, hy?d in the back, killing him almost instantly.
David Rosenzweig, married to the Rebbetzin?s daughter Chavi, leaves six children, including a 12 year old son whose Bar Mitzvah will be next January and an eight year old. So ironic it is that David?s parents were holocaust survivors, only to have their son murdered by neo-Nazis, in of all places, Toronto, Canada.
Toronto is not the kind of place one expects to read about anti-Semitic hate killings. According to the Toronto media, this was only the 15th murder in Toronto this year. There is a large Jewish community in the city, both religious and secular, as well as many synagogues and Jewish community centers. Some people, hearing of the murder, exclaimed, ?Things like this don?t happen in Toronto.?
Unfortunately though, they do ? all around the world. Wherever there are Jews, there is someone who hates them and is willing to kill them, for no other reason, without any excuse, except that they are Jews. And it?s nothing new. It?s been happening for about two thousand years. Here in Israel we too are familiar with the phenomena. Here the killing is not perpetrated by crazed individuals or fanatic groups ? here we face the killing of Jews in Eretz Yisrael just because they are Jews living in Israel.
This Thursday will mark the annual anniversary of the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple in Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago. It is written that the 2nd Temple was destroyed because of Sinat Hinam ? blind hatred between Jews. Even in the year 2002 we still face hatred, from without, as with the tragic and senseless murder of a righteous man such as David Rosenzweig, as well as hatred from within. There?s no need to detail the massive and unnecessary infighting between Jews, especially in Israel, or wherever they are. Perhaps, if all of us, Jews and gentiles alike, take it upon ourselves to accept our fellowman, for whatever he or she is, the blind hatred we know so well, will, in the words of Rav Kook, be transformed into blind love, and no longer will we mourn such heartrending atrocities, such as the murder of David Rosenzweig in Toronto this past Saturday night. May our blind love be a consolation to the family.