Eli and Dina Horowitz
March 8, 2003
I met Mrs. Bernice Wolff a number of years ago. She came over from the United States, bought an apartment in Ma’ale Adumim, and spent a lot of time here in Israel, visiting her family. Every time I met her she would launch into a succinct political analysis, always aware of what was happening, both here in Hebron and throughout Israel.
Last night I saw her again. She watched, sometime after midnight, as her daughter’s lifeless body was carried into the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem. When the men from the Chevra Kaddisha, the burial society, lowered Dina Horowitz into her grave, her mother, Bernice Wolff, turned her head, not being able to watch as her beloved daughter was buried in the ground she so loved, the earth of Eretz Yisrael.
Again – it happened again. It’s almost a rerun. Friday night, eating our Shabbat dinner, family and guests, singing, speaking words of Torah, enjoying the peace and quiet of the Sabbath in Hebron. A knock on the door. A little boy, saying, “pray – something happened in Kiryat Arba.” Running downstairs, picking up pieces of conversation, listening to the army walke-talkie, ‘terrorists infiltrated Kiryat Arba, shooting, people injured.’
And then the waiting. What happened? Who was hurt? Was anyone killed, G-d forbid? Waiting, and continuing the Shabbat meal, after all, it is Shabbat, isn’t it. A time of tranquility, of peace?
The rumors start, ‘the terrorists infiltrated an apartment, building 35, two people were killed, others wounded, the terrorists were eliminated.’
Building 35, who lives in building 35, this family, that family – Granot, Horowitz, who else. A little while later one of the emergency medics returns from the scene of the atrocity. ‘Who was it,’ I ask quietly, ‘who was killed?’ not really wanting to know. He doesn’t answer – it takes some time, I ask again, holding my breath, and then he says, ‘Reb Eli Horowitz, I identified him, and a woman too, I didn’t know her so I can’t be 100% sure, but on the face of it, his wife.’
Rav Eli and Dina Horowitz, shot down by two Arafat terrorists, just like that, a few seconds, two people erased from the annuals of the living.
I’m stunned – it’s impossible to fathom. Walking slowly back into Beit Hadassah I bump into Rav Moshe Bleicher, dean of the Shavei Hevron yeshiva, where Rav Eli Horowitz has been teaching for 17 years. He looks at me with questioning eyes – ‘who is it, do you know?’ I shake my head, not wanting to tell him, and blurt, ‘you don’t want to know.’ He gasps and asks, asking and telling at the same time, Reb Eli? And he runs off to speak with the medic, to confirm what he already knows.
Walking back upstairs, I can’t find it in me to break the news – we hadn’t yet finished our meal, everyone knew them – how can I even say the words? I put on a face, walk back into the apartment, saying, ‘they don’t know yet’, and then conclude dinner. The older kids go out, and after a long while I finally tell my wife, not even being able to say their names, how can it be true, just telling her, ‘my learning partner, and his wife.’ She looks at me, at first not comprehending; I haven’t studied with a ‘learning partner’ in many years. But then she understands, I learned with Eli Horowitz for an entire year, many years ago. We spent hours and hours together – our families spent the Purim and Passover holidays together – Ora’s eyes open wide and she asks, ‘both of them?’ and I can only shake my head yes.
On Saturday night I went up to Kiryat Arba to photograph the apartment – a scene straight out of Sodomand Gemorrah. Indescribable – total chaos, bullet holes, the feel of death and destruction, and so much blood. Blood of our friends and teachers, Eli and Dina Horowitz.
I could talk tonight for hours and not begin to truly express who they were. Teachers, both taught, and not your normal everyday instructors, rather people who embraced their students, as if they were their children. Who taught, not for a monthly pay check, but for love, for love of their subject and for love of their students. Eli and Dina didn’t teach Torah, they were Torah, they were living examples of how life should be, of patience, of understanding, of wisdom, of ‘Yirat Shamamyim’ – fear of G-d. And of love, so much love, abounding, love for their children, their families, their fellowman, loving one another for thirty years, the last day as the first day. Dina also taught music, it was the essence of her soul. Eli loved nature and together they would hike, as they did that last Friday, amongst the flowers and the greenery of the land of Israel. Eli Horowitz initiated discussions amongst all facets of the Israeli political spectrum, holding conversations with those whose life’s philosophies were diametrically opposed to his, speaking, explaining, and listening. That is what I remember him teaching me – the need to listen, to hear, to absorb, in Hebrew, l’shmoah, not to close out others, but to really hear what they have to say, and to listen to the Divine voice, the voice of Torah, of voice of Eretz Yisrael, the voice of G-d. There’s so much I remember, and so much that I’ve forgotten.
Eli and Dina Horowitz left this world too early; they gave so much, and had so much more to give, to contribute, to all Am Yisrael. They were people of hope and prayer, of optimism, of values, they were the embodiment of what life should be, of what life is really all about.
And I know that I personally will always cherish a book that Rav Eli Horowitz gave me, years ago, when we studied together, inscribed personally, concluding with the words, ‘your faithful friend, Eli Horowitz.’
Our beloved Eli and Dina, Rabbi Eli and Rebbetzin Dina, victims of the Oslo War, their loss making all of us, again, victims of the Oslo War, the war for Eretz Yisrael.
May their memories be blessed for eternity.
With blessings and tears, a waterfall of tears, from Hebron,
This is David Wilder