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Forged by Their Faith

Mishpacha Contributors

Teshuvah: Hashem's ultimate act of chesed, the opportunity to lift oneself onto a plane of timelessness, so that one can turn back the clock and reshape reality. In the following pages we find three courageous women, women who listened to the whispered stirrings of their souls and discovered the emunah that lay deep inside.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

No matter how many years go by, I will never, ever forget the sharp pain of a Kalashnikov being pushed against my shoulder blades. It was 1974, I was 15, and I and my classmates were on a school trip. We set off early morning, laden with nosh and high spirits. As the sun began to set, we hiked through a ravine and past an Arab village, arriving in Maalot just before nightfall. The school dorm we were staying in wasn’t exactly five-star accommodation, but hey, who was planning to sleep? It was going to be one of those nights — we’d stay up singing, talking, and just having the greatest time. The teachers colluded: they found themselves quiet spots on the first floor; we students took over the second and third floors of the building. I fell asleep just before dawn, while still in the middle of a conversation — head drooping down onto my knees. I don’t know how long I dozed, but it was still dark when I heard two sharp cracks and lifted my head. “What was that?” I grabbed my friend’s arm. She rubbed her eyes, sat up, and listened. This time, the noise sounded like small explosions. We ran down to the teachers and woke them up. Irritated, they told us that we were dreaming. “Go back to sleep,” one teacher said. “Our next hike is super challenging. You’ll need your strength.” Still holding hands, my friend and I ran back upstairs. There were more noises. “Shots,” I whispered. My friend nodded. These sounded very close by. We were all awake by this time, bleary-eyed, panicking. We all asked each other what to do, what should be done, what was going on, but no one had any answers. Before we could even connect our thoughts into some logical order, we were faced by three Arabs. Three masked faces. Three rifles, a belt of ammunition. We had no idea what to do. In our young lives we’d been prepared for fire, bombs, even earthquakes. What safety awareness video prepares you for being taken hostage? But there we were, over a hundred teenagers trapped on the third floor of a building with three Arabs. I remember thinking how we were nothing special, we weren’t heroine material, we were just regular kids thinking about dumb teenage stuff. I wanted to scream; a hurtling sound built up in my chest. But I also knew that if I screamed, I might be shot. So I turned it inward. I said Shema. I begged Hashem to make a miracle for us.

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