I have often read Lessons in Emunah. When several of my friends told me I ought to submit the following I decided to follow their advice.
My husband and I made aliyah three and a half years ago to Efrat. We are both retired and are very happy with the quality of life here in Efrat. The community is friendly, warm, and active. There is something here for every age, taste, and need.
I wrote the following on Nov 18, 2003:
I made the decision last night to forgo my usual Tuesday morning swim. Instead, I decided to go with the women of Efrat (and neighboring areas) on their weekly bus trip to Kever Rachel. There were three reasons for this change of mind. Firstly, I hadn’t been there in a while and I always feel better after talking out my feelings and anxieties near Rachel Imeinu. Secondly, we have some very dear people I wanted to say special Tefillot for, and last but not least, our weekly shiur was going to be in English and given by the young women whose shiur I attend every Wednesday at the Women’s Bet Midrash of Efrat.
Every Tuesday, since Sarah Blaustein HY”D was murdered, there has been a bulletproof bus that takes us to Kever Rachel. This is in her memory, since she went to Kever Rachel every Tuesday morning, from the day she made aliyah until the day she was murdered. The bus to this holy site was arranged under the direction of some dedicated women in Efrat. To add more meaning to the morning davening and saying Tehillim, a shiur is given in either Hebrew or English by one of the very talented women or men of Gush Etzion and/or Yerushalayim.
For the longest time, we were denied permission to go to Kever Rachel by the Israeli forces, on the theory that they couldn’t protect us. But B”H, people desired to visit and pray at Kever Rachel and we now have a bulletproof Egged bus that runs several times a day from the Yerushalayim central bus station. A soldier who boards the bus at the checkpoint protects us. We have to strictly adhere to the schedule because there is only room for one bus to wait (under security) while we board or leave the bus.
You see such an amazing group of people coming there. Israelis, tourists, the old, the young, some carrying infants or toddlers, the sick, the handicapped, the poor, and the wealthy, Sefardim and Ashkenazim, all kinds of Jews coming to pray at the Kever of our beloved mother Rachel.
When I awoke this morning, November 18, I heard the seven o’clock news. There was a report that there was yet another sniper attack on the Gush Etzion/ Yerushalayim road. This is the highway that runs right outside of Efrat, going north through two tunnels to Yerushalayim. It sounded from the reports that the two people involved were lightly injured and the traffic was at a standstill. This wasn’t going to stop me from going, because I knew within an hour (we leave at 8:30) the traffic would have been cleared and all would be normal.
Yes, it was normal, but not the normal we look forward to. As I waited at the bus stop with another woman, I found out that there were two chayalim (soldiers) murdered at the checkpoint. (That’s where my husband and I always stop to give the soldiers goodies to nosh). It seems that an Arab had a rifle hidden in a prayer rug and after the soldiers gave him
permission to pray there, he took the rifle out and fired point-blank at two soldiers. Shlomi Bielsky HY”D and Shaul Lahav HY”D were murdered that morning. The Arab jumped into a getaway car and fled the scene. So obviously it was planned in advance, and not that some guy went crazy and decided to kill some Jews today.
We have recently been ordered to be more lenient to Arab population and so we now have donkeys, cars, buses and taxies filled with them on our roads. They walk on our roads, ride on our roads, and kill our children.
We couldn’t get into Kever Rachel for a while because of the checking of all the cars, so one of the organizers took out a set of Tehillim and we all sat on the bus and said Tehillim. You should have heard the silence. The bus was full of chattering women. Suddenly, we all stopped, and began to say Tehillim. (What is amazing is that these are everyday women, like me, like you, the kind you meet in the supermarket, swimming pool, and in shul. There we were, thrown into circumstances that no one should be asked to contemplate, and how do we react? We pray. And it helps us and we hope it helps those for whom we are praying.
We arrived at Kever Rachel and I davened. My davening was extraordinarily intense probably because of the tears, that I couldn’t stop and all the thoughts that I had. It was O K. I was in good company. Mostly everyone there was praying with such intensity that the sobs of some were audible. (There was a group of New Yorkers from the G.A. convention there, and they also seemed very subdued and touched by the tragedy.)
On the way home, we stopped at the checkpoint where today’s attack took place. The bus driver got out to ask permission from the officer in charge for us to stand there, and we got out of the bus and said Tehillim. There were reporters there and loads of cameras, but no one took pictures of us. I guess we weren’t newsworthy. We got home safely B”H to carry on with our normal activities.
Just another morning!