The joy of Shabbat – the sadness of bereavement

July 24, 2017 by  
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It was a perfect Shabbat, with many guests, delicious food. The end of Shabbat was approaching and, together with my son and our guests, we make our way to the house of my friend Gadi Whitman for evening prayers. In my heart, I wish that Shabbat would not end… When the evening prayers were over, we sit around the table together to recite the prayer “Vayiten lecha”…writes ZAKA volunteer Moti Bukchin.

Moti Bukchin (kneeling) at the site of the terror attack

Only when we had finished, did Gadi’s son tell us the painful news: “There was a horrific terror attack last night in Halamish and there are several fatalities.”. As a veteran ZAKA volunteer, I fully understand the significance of the news and hurry home.

The fragrance of Shabbat still lingers in my home, my children are playing happily. But I ask that we make Havdalah quickly, update my wife with the terrible news and tell her that I must leave immediately for the terror scene. In the meantime, I turn on my cellphone and I see many missed calls. The first person I call back is Berele Ya’acobovitz, one of ZAKA’s most respected volunteers. “We are on our way to give assistance to volunteers from the ZAKA Shai region who are already at the scene”, he explains to me.

“Of course,” I reply. “I will leave home as soon as I finish making Havdalah”

I go back to the kitchen, where everything is ready for Havdalah. The candle is burning, my family and Shabbat guests are waiting for me to begin. As I begin to recite the Havdalah prayers, the words take on even more significance and meaning. “Behold, God is my savior, I will trust God and not be afraid”. My thoughts are already drifting to the terror scene and the victims’ families. I complete the Havdalah ceremony with the words “who separates between the holy and the profane; between the light and dark; between Israel and the other nations.”

How quickly does the life of a ZAKA volunteer shift from the joy of Shabbat to the terrible sadness of bereavement, a thought that follows me all the way to the terror scene. We were so joyous, spending such a pleasant Shabbat with family and friends and only a few kilometers away this terrible terror attack took place… A Jewish family struck down in the midst of a Shabbat meal, celebrating the birth of a new grandchild. What can be more shocking and horrific than that? We must strengthen ourselves, we must pray that there will be an end to these horrific terror attacks and may we speedily merit redemption in our days. Amen and may we share only happy times.”

Moti Bukchin (kneeling) at the site of the terror attack

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