In the past week, Israel has experienced several terror attacks and attempted attacks. Two Israelis were murdered in particularly evil and grotesque ways.
13 year old Hallel Ariel was stabbed to death in her sleep by a terrorist who broke into her house. She had just finished her yearend dance recital in Jerusalem the night before and was sleeping in. Her life and her future, and all her parents’ hopes for her, were snuffed out by the hands of a teenage Palestinian Arab terrorist who was inspired to hate and murder by the incitement that’s pervasive in that society, and which the Palestinian Authority President celebrates. The mother of the terrorist praised him and his “martyrdom.” Hallel could have been any of our daughters.
48 year old father of ten, Rabbi Miki Mark was shot to death when a Palestinian Arab car overtook his car, opening fire that killed him immediately and caused his car to overturn. His wife was critically wounded as were their two children in the back seat. As he was being buried his wife woke up in the hospital from a coma, and is still in critical condition. His daughter was transported by an emergency vehicle from the hospital to the funeral.
At Rabbi Mark’s funeral, his children wept through eulogies, thanking him for raising them with the strength and faith to get them through this loss. Yet some students present cried out for revenge. Family members vocally opposed this and asked them to stop and leave. Rabbi Mark’s daughter in law responded to similar sentiments on social media, writing that after the shooting “I really have to tell you that the first to arrive at the scene was a Palestinian vehicle with an Arab couple who exited and took care of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. They gave them a cell phone to call (the authorities), and stayed with them in those difficult moments.”
These have been horrible days. Many more have been wounded, and there are dozens of newly bereaved family members are now mourning their losses. But there is hope in that a Palestinian Arab couple stopped to help the victims, citing their humanity and they would do it for anyone. Similarly, as I waited with hundreds of people along the route of Rabbi Mark’s funeral procession, despite the tension that’s very thick right now, a Palestinian Arab driver stopped and said to one of my neighbors, “It’s not your fault and it’s not my fault,” seemingly disavowing the murders, and also noting that we are human and this should not be happening to us.
Despite these glimmers of hope, the reality is that whether these expressions of humanity from our Arab neighbors represent the majority or not, by being public about this, they risk becoming victims at the hands of their own extremist neighbors. I don’t believe they represent the majority, but we have to thank God that they exist.
And despite these glimmers of hope, the mood is one of fear, sadness, bewilderment, and anger. Dozens of family members of the recent victims are in shock. They are still observing a formal period of mourning, yet when that ends, they will be left to cope with their loss.
Due to the 2001 brutal murder of another 13 year old, Koby Mandell, his parents also responded with love, to turn his death into a way to help bereaved families like theirs. They established The Koby Mandell Foundation which provides therapeutic healing programs for women and children who have lost a husband, child, or sibling through terror or tragedy. Over the years, thousands of Israelis have been helped and strengthened by a wide range of programs and services, healing broken hearts and invisible scars.
Unfortunately in Israel, there’s no end in sight to the hate and terror that continues. In the past year alone there have been dozens of victims of terror murdered, hundreds injured, and many hundreds more bereaved family members. And because of the ongoing plague of terror, thousands of Israelis who have previously suffered loss are feeling renewed and increased sense of fear and insecurity. This has caused a greater demand for The Koby Mandell Foundation’s therapeutic programs, and a stretch in the resources needed to provide these. But the impact that’s made is life changing. As one young mother whose husband was killed several months ago said recently at a healing retreat for bereaved women, “I found then me that I thought had no longer existed.”
People call and email me all the time, asking what can be done. Because of the seemingly endless wave of terror that’s ongoing, I want to share two opportunities.
First, you can join The Koby Mandell Foundation and make a direct and tangible difference today by making a donation at www.kobymandell.org.
No less significant, you can pray. Not just pray in your prayer closet or at church, but through The Koby Mandell Foundation, you can send your prayers to the mourners. In Jewish tradition, the month immediately after burial of a loved one is a period of mourning during which it is customary for friends and even total strangers to visit and comfort the mourners. While you can’t be there in person, you can still comfort and send your prayers to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The response so far has been heartwarming and indeed is a blessing to the families, and all of Israel.
The comfort and strength you’ll provide by sending your prayers will be invaluable as the families emerge from a formal period of mourning and begin to restore their lives. Please share this opportunity with your church and your friends. Together, we can provide an outpouring of love that overcomes the hate inspired terror to which they have fallen victim.
God says that He will bless those who bless Israel. Blessing Israel has no boundaries. Sending your prayers today to email@example.com, and sharing this with others will be a blessing and comfort that also knows no boundaries.
If you’d like to note who your prayer is for please do so, or if it’s not specific we will deliver to both families. We pray that these will be the last families of terror victims who ever need your prayers. Please provide your name, email, and mailing address should the families wish to acknowledge you personally.
If you have a heart for Israel, please align your heart with God’s heart when He says, “Comfort, comfort My People, says your God.” (Isaiah 40:1)