November 24, 2006
Shabbat is starting in just over an hour, but there are some things that you feel like you have to write, even if time is short. I was busy earlier with a group from Lakewood, New Jersey, and only now can sit for a few minutes. I hope I manage to express my thoughts lucidly.
It was just a week ago that we hosted, here in Hebron, somewhere in the vicinity of 30,000 guests. No, they didn’t all eat at my home in Beit Hadassah. We split them up amongst the families in Hebron and Kiryat Arba. : ) – Well, almost. We had something over 20 at our Shabbat table. That was considered small. Others had between 50 to 100 guests.
Some ate in tents set up all over, receiving Shabbat meals preordered from Hebron’s hospitality center. Friday, during the day and all night, as well as all day Saturday, was amazing. So many Jews walking the streets, visiting the sites, just being here, in Hebron and Kiryat Arba, was really an event to be experienced. It is very difficult to express in words.
The preparations for such a weekend are long and consuming. People worked day and night for weeks to try and insure that everyone arriving would have a place to sleep and food to eat. And even those who didn’t make reservations wouldn’t be left out. (We had two fellows from Ashdod who ‘showed up at the last minute’ looking for somewhere to eat and sleep. We gave them a place on our floor and at the table. Many others did the same, welcoming ‘unexpected’ guests.)
People from all over the world come into Hebron particularly for this Shabbat. From the United States, from Europe, you name it and they are here. Kids, adults, everyone.
Shabbat Hebron, every year when we read in the Torah about Abraham’s purchase of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the Caves of Machpela, is always special. But this year was extraordinary. At least as far as I was concerned.
Last Friday morning our apartment beepers started buzzing. Sometimes they inform us of an engagement and at other times of a rescheduled community event, or even of a security problem. However, last Friday morning the buzzing beeper had other news for us: “Mazal Tov to Itzik and Oriya Pass on the birth of a new little baby boy.”
Itzik and Oriya have two little girls. But they should have three, for Oriya gave birth to three girls. The first of those, their oldest daughter, was named Shalhevet, and over five years ago she was shot and killed by an Arab terrorist from the Abu Sneneh hills, overlooking the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Shalhevet was in her stroller, with her parents at her side when the killer started shooting. Itzik was hit in the legs; the bullet went through Shalhevet’s head, killing her instantly.
What does a family do following such a tragedy, their first-born plucked from them, at only 10 months of age? Itzik and Oriya are strong people, filled with faith and love of their land, their people and their G-d. It certainly wasn’t easy, but with support from family and friends, and people all over the world, they were able to overcome their sorrow and mourning. Today they live only meters from the very spot where Shalhevet was shot and killed, with their two other daughters playing outside in the playground adjacent to where their oldest sister was murdered.
And after three girls, Oriya Pass gave birth last Friday to their first son.
Early this morning, at the ‘Kollel’ (Torah Study Hall) opened in Shalhevet’s memory in that same Avraham Avinu neighborhood, family and friends, from Hebron and all over Israel, celebrated the new baby’s ‘Brit Milah’ – ritual circumcision. During the ceremony the baby was named, David Tzuri; David, in honor of Itzik’s father, David Pass. Tzur, in Hebrew, means a hard stone, and connotates strength, and is sometimes a synonym for G-d (as is suggested in the Israeli Declaration of Independence). King David, writing in Psalm 144 says “‘Baruch Tzuri,’ praised be my rock (my strength – my G-d), who teaches my fingers battle and my hands war.” Of course, King David started ruling here in Hebron for over 7 years before moving up to Jerusalem. So the name, David Tzuri has much meaning, for the family, privately and symbolically, relating to all of us, teaching us all.
Following the loss of a child, so tragically, the Pass family didn’t give up, they didn’t run away. They battled, for the right to continue to live, in Hebron, in Eretz Yisrael, to continue to have children, who too can play in the city of the Patriarchs, and worship at Ma’arat HaMachpela. At the present these rights entail battle and war, privately and publicly, by each and every individual, and by the State. Sometimes these legitimate rights, to live freely and safely in our homeland are forgotten by some, but others, like Itzik and Oriya Pass, won’t let them be forgotten. They are raising children, who in their very being are warriors; the fact that they live here in Hebron, or anywhere in the Land of Israel makes them so, whether they desire it or not. These little warriors are the future of our people in our land – and little David Tzuri, together with his two sisters and the others that are yet to be born, are the best memorial their oldest sister, Shalhevet, could ever have.
To the extended Pass-Zarbiv family, Mazal tov – best wishes for many other happy occasions. From all of us in Hebron.