Monday, March 14, 2011

The Funeral

Editor's Note: On Friday, March 11th, 5 people, including three 2 children and one infant, were brutally killed in their homes.  On Sunday, a few students went to their funeral.  This is the story from one student's perspective.

I hadn't even heard about the tragedy until 15 minutes before the funeral. Halfway through lunch, blissfully unaware of what had happened, a fellow Yeshiva Bocher approached me and asked if I wanted to go with him to the huge event scheduled to take place on that Sunday, 13th March 2011 (7th Adar 5771). After he had hastily described to me the details of that fateful Erev Shabbat, I agreed without hesitation to accompany him and show my support.

Joined by another friend, we took the first bus headed to Givat Shaul and, luckily living only a short distance away, were able to arrive within 20 minutes. Walking down the hill in the direction of the cemetery, we were met with large crowds of people; religious, secular, soldier and civilian alike, already making their way home and marching in the opposite direction. We were late, but decided to keep going. We simply wanted to show our faces and say a few chapters of Tehillim.



Upon arrival, the gravity of what had happened suddenly hit me. Thousands of solemn faces greeted us, as the tear-choked voice of a certain Rabbi pierced the air with prayers, proclaiming the G-d of Israel as the One True King, Merciful, Compassionate and Good, despite the terrible crime perpetrated against an innocent family. Tehillim were said and tears were shed, each and every person in attendance trying to remind themselves that "HaKol L'Tova": everything that comes from Heaven (although seemingly unjust in our own human eyes) is ultimately for the good.

Later that day I found out that the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yona Metzger, and a host of other rabbis and politicians had spoken that day, offering condolences to the relatives of the murdered family, and talking of Jewish unity in dark times like these. I've noticed that at ceremonies such as this (may they cease entirely with the coming of Mashiach), having attended other ceremonies commemorating fallen Israeli soldiers, and having seen on TV the violent demonstrations of the Arabs condemning Israel and burning Israeli flags, and screaming death threats to the Jewish people, that not one word is said condemning the Palestinians. When mourning our loved ones, there's just no room for condemnation. Thats not what we're interested in. This is not what we want. We simply want to live.



The funeral of the Fogel family today was a painful reminder that we are still a long way from peace, and still a hated nation. The message of the upcoming festival of Purim, celebrating the miraculous reversal of a severe decree against the Jewish people, could not have been made any more real than it was today, reminding us that it is still as appropiate a message our days as it has been throughout our grief-ridden history.

It was also a demonstration of Jewish Unity. There are few times when the Jewish people are truly united; but today 20,000 mourners in attendance and thousands more in Israel and the Diaspora, who were pained by this terrible tragedy, demonstrated that despite our petty differences in religious or political outlook, Am Yisrael Chai: The people of Israel Live.