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On the Wings of a Dove

Rhona Lewis

Ten years have passed since that terrible day when Shoshana Hayman Greenbaum was killed in the Sbarro terrorist attack. But now that the tears have dried, a different picture shimmers. Because although the contours of this woman’s life seem ordinary, the image that emerges is extraordinary.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Together, Mr. and Mrs. Hayman open the door to their apartment on a quiet side street in Ramat Beit Shemesh. Mr. Hayman is tall and distinguished. His blue eyes, gentle and flecked with pain, shine warmly above his thick, white beard. As Mrs. Hayman guides me in, her dark eyes and her soul envelop me with warmth and encouragement. I am riveted by her smile. And then, across the room, I see a large photo of Shoshana Hayman Greenbaum Hy”d, and I see the same dazzling smile. The photo was taken in August 2001, just four days before the suicide bombing attack that claimed Shoshana’s life.

Shoshana was standing on the cusp of motherhood and bursting with life and dreams, when on August 9, 2001, 130 people were injured and fifteen people were murdered in the attack on the Sbarro pizza restaurant in the heart of downtown Jerusalem. Shoshana, the Hayman’s only child, and her unborn child were among them.

 

It Will Be Beautiful

Shoshana and her husband, Shmuel, were in Israel for the summer, so Shoshana could complete her master’s degree in Yeshiva University’s Azrieli School of Education. The couple was staying in a small dormitory apartment.

“There was a bird on the windowsill,” recalls Shmuel, “and Shoshana was distraught. ‘It looks so sick …what can we do?’

“I said, ‘Shoshana there’s a bird’s-nest there. The bird on the ledge is waiting to lay her eggs.’

“A few days later, Shoshana came over to me and said, ‘Shmuel, you were right. The mother bird flew off and I saw there were two little eggs.’

“Each day we watched the birds switch places on top of their treasure. Each day we watched and waited and hoped the eggs would hatch. When one of the eggs finally did, Shoshana was dismayed. ‘It’s so ugly,’ she said.

“ ‘Shoshana,’ I said, ‘it may be ugly now — because we don’t see the future. These hatchlings will become beautiful doves. In the future, in a place we don’t see, everything is beautiful.’ ”

It’s a message Shmuel has repeated to himself and others countless times since the tragedy.

It’s a message that Shoshana had personified in her lifetime.

“As Shoshana grew up, she grew spiritually,” Mr. Hayman says. Like everyone, she faced challenges: interpersonal relationships, friction at work, and shidduchim.

“Life was not handed to her on a silver platter,” one of her friends says. “She just polished her platter till it shone like gold.”

Shoshana had a hunter-green wooden box on which she painted pencil-thin white flowers. On it, she inscribed the pasukEven ma’asu habonim haysah l’rosh pinah — The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Tehillim 118:22). Inside, she kept mementos, essays and poems that she wrote during times of challenge.

“Most people try to remove the rocks that block their way,” reflects Esther Stauber, a confidant of Shoshana’s from the time they taught together at Hebrew Academy of Long Beach in New York. “Not Shoshana. She believed that these rocks were a special gift of kindness from Hashem. They were the foundation to improve ourselves and the entire Jewish People. Shoshana would look at these pieces of her life and recall how she had used them as a cornerstone for growth.”

“When I have a struggle, I want to go to bed and hope it’ll be gone in the morning,” another friend says. “But Shoshana used her struggles to grow.”

The last thing Shoshana put in her box was her kesubah.

“With marriage,” her husband Shmuel says, “she was finally able to end the struggles. She was completely at peace and in a constant state of happiness.”

 

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