20 years after deadly attack, survivors of Sbarro bombing dedicate Shaare Zedek delivery room as ‘Symbol of Life’

August 4, 2021 by TPS
Read on for article

Exactly 20 years ago this month, one of the most devastating terror attacks to strike Jerusalem occurred when a suicide bomber detonated himself at the Sbarro Pizzeria in the city’s downtown commercial zone.

Siblings Chaya and Meir Schijveschuurder and the medical personnel who treated them 20 years ago. (Jared Bernstein)

The bombing killed 15 people, including five members of the Schijveschuurder family, the two parents and three of their children.

20 years later, surviving members of the family, including two siblings who were seriously injured in the attack, dedicated a maternal delivery room in memory of their murdered love ones at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center this past week.

Meir Schijveschuurder, who experienced the attack as a 17-year-old, described the choice to dedicate a delivery room as reflecting the “circle of life.”

Both Meir and his sister Chaya, then 8, were seriously injured and hospitalized at Bikur Cholim Hospital, which in 2012 became part of Shaare Zedek.

Among those who attended the emotional ceremony were medical personnel who triaged and treated the siblings. For them, it was the first time reuniting with the family after they were released from the hospital, and described the event as “a highly emotional moment.”

Chana Smadja, who was then working as a nurse in the emergency room, said that day stood out in everyone’s memory amid the numerous terror attacks that struck the city during that period.  With the hospital located less than 200 meters from the scene of the blast, the staff heard and felt the explosion.

While Bikur Cholim was the smallest of the major Jerusalem hospitals, the proximity to the attack made it the center for initial triage and treatment of the most seriously injured.

“There was a smell in the air of the explosive materials and the patients arrived on stretchers directly from the site because it was too close to even put them in ambulances,” she recalled. “The initial moments were chaotic and it took some time before we were able to realize the extent of the catastrophe and that we were treating multiple siblings whose parents had been killed.”

Chagai HaCohen, a veteran surgical nurse who was then at Bikur Cholim and who has treated victims from dozens of mass casualty incidents, said it was “one of the toughest days of my professional life.”

Chagai recalled the moments during which they struggled to identify the victims and began to understand the scope of the family tragedy.

“To be here today and to see the siblings strong and healthy and know they have families of their own is truly witnessing a circle being closed. An event that caused so much devastation and loss is now being marked in this way that will bring new lives into the world,” he said.

The decision to donate the delivery room in one of the country’s most active hospitals, which recorded over 22,000 births in 2020, came in part after Chaya Schijveschuurder had her first child in the hospital last year.

Meir’s wife Nechama also works as a midwife in the hospital’s Wilf Woman and Infant Center.

“Over the years we have always wanted to express our gratitude to the medical teams and we deeply appreciate the chance to be able to memorialize our family with this special delivery room that so symbolizes life,” Meir shared.

Shaare Zedek President Prof. Jonathan Halevy thanked the family and said that “this is a room which is defined by the spirit of birth and building the future of Jerusalem and Israel in a way that ensures that even out of the most devastating events like this attack we can offer the promise of hope and life.”

J-Wire asked Arnold Roth who made Aliyah to Israel with his family from Melbourne and whose 15-yr-old daughter Malka was a victim of the bombing. He was unaware of the ceremony.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.