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Faith amid the Flames

Shifra Weiss

Five lives ruptured by the cruel violence of Palestinian terrorists; five beacons of emunah during these challenging times.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It’s a dark Friday night in December 2002. Terrorists storm the kitchen ofYeshivatOtniel during theLeilShabbos meal. One of the four young men on kitchen duty,NoamApter, makes a split-second decision that seals his fate, but saves the lives of at least 100 others: Instead of running, he locks the door between the kitchen and the dining room and throws the key in a dark corner, trapping himself and the other three with their killers. Many of us remember hearing this heroic story when it happened, feeling awed byNoam’s ultimate sacrifice. Some wondered whether they could have had his presence of mind, his incredible strength. But what about the people who really knewNoam — his family, his loved ones? Do they wish he had acted differently, chosen to save himself — and come home again? How do they make sense of the tragedy? How do they cope with their loss and go on with their lives?  Terror victims are, unfortunately, all too common in Israel today. Though every story is different, it never ceases to amaze how survivors draw strength from suffering, turning an impossible burden into powerful messages for the rest of us. On the picturesque streets of Jerusalem’s German Colony, the organization OneFamily — Overcoming Terror Together conducts its important work of supporting victims of terror as they rebuild their lives. In their offices, five women — each touched by tragedy — have come together to talk about their experiences and journeys. Elisheva, Maya, Pirchya, Livnat, and Chaya share a reality that is harsh, but not hopeless. Looking at them sitting around the table, they don’t look like victims. Though they haven’t “gotten over” their traumas, they have come to a place of peace through a combination of external help and inner strength.

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