Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book: Mourning Under Glass--Dealing With Terror And Loss After The Merkaz HaRav Massacre

On March 6, 2008 an Arab terrorist went on a murderous rampage in Jerusalem's Merkaz HaRav Yeshivah. Eight young men were killed. Among them, my beloved sixteen-year-old son, Avraham David Moses, hy"d. This book explores the aftermath of terror and loss while grappling with the tensions between memory and memorial.
Dr. Naftali Moses, describing his book Mourning Under Glass

Here is an excerpt from Mourning Under Glass:
And cursed be he who says: Revenge!
Revenge like this, revenge for the blood of a small child
Even the devil has not created…
Haim Nahman Bialik “On the Slaughter”

Chapter One: The Darkest Night

Ala Abu Dheim was a 20-year-old Jerusalem school-bus driver. He worked for his family’s company ferrying special education students to school. His father, a building engineer, had for years operated his mini-bus line, successfully bidding on municipal tenders for student transport, helping to build up the family fortune. On March 6, 2008, after a normal workday, Dheim the son parked his company van outside of a religious studies college, Merkav HaRav Yeshivah, and walked through its open gates. It was nearly 8:10 pm. Carrying a large box in his arms, he set it down in the school’s courtyard, just across from the dormitory entrance. There he opened his package and began to make his last delivery. Out of the box came a Kalashnikov assault rifle. It had been purchased some time before in Dura, one of the small villages between Hebron and Be’er Sheva, for “criminal” use. In General Security Services lingo, this means intra-Arab crime—drugs, maybe some car theft. Although Abu Dheim still lived with his parents, he was engaged and probably needed to supplement the salary his father paid him. He had already done a few months in prison. On this day, though, his weapon would find a higher use—one that would make him a holy man, a holy martyr—a shahid—in the eyes of his Arab brethren who would dance in the streets when they heard what he had done.

Thursday night in the yeshivah is a busy time. The week’s study is drawing to a close. Most of the students stay up well past midnight studying, some don’t sleep at all—a custom called mishmar (“guard-duty” of a spiritual nature). Some want to review their week’s learning, some want to make one last push ahead before Shabbat—the day of rest. This particular Thursday was a bit different, however. It was the first day of the Jewish month of Adar. Adar is the last month of the Jewish calendar, but host to its most boisterously joyful holiday, Purim. The beginning of the month is marked in all yeshivahs with parties. “When Adar begins, we increase the happiness” says the Talmud. Traditionally, yeshivah students dance, sing and practical-joke their way through the two weeks from the first of Adar until Purim itself, when the festivities reach their apogee of often alcohol-aided celebration.

Students in the high school adjacent to the Merkaz HaRav campus were busy clearing tables and chairs from their study hall and stringing up decorations in anticipation of the party scheduled to begin after evening prayers. Some had gone to the Old City for a special monthly prayer rally held the day before each new moon and had not yet returned. Some were on a school trip and would be pulling up in a pair of buses a few minutes after Abu Dheim himself arrived.

Several students, though, including my son, Avraham David, had decided not to let any of these extracurricular activities interfere with their daily studies. Avraham David, together with one of his friends and study partners, Segev Avihail, both serious sixteen-year-olds in tenth grade, had decided to learn together in the Merkaz HaRav library. The library, home to one of Jerusalem’s better collections of opened-stacked sifre qodesh (Judaica, literally holy books) was accessible to the general public. On Thursdays especially, it was usually filled not only with the yeshivah’s college-aged students, but also with neighborhood residents who took advantage of its quiet and available desk space to study for part of the evening.
Continue reading Chapter One: The Darkest Night
There are also reviews of Mourning Under Glass and a slide show.

Also read about Dr. Moses' other book, Really Dead, an academic study of the Israeli brain-death controversy, focusing on the 1986 Chief Rabbinate's decision allowing heart transplants.

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