Last month four Jews, three young women and one young man, were brutally massacred by an Arab terrorist on the Armon Hanatziv promenade in Jerusalem. The Arab rammed a flatbed truck into them, crushing Cadet Shir Hajaj of Maaleh Adumim, Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel of Givatayim, Cadet Shira Tzur of Haifa, and Cadet Erez Orbach of Alon Shvut – all in the early months of their IDF training. Each one was a spark of hope in the soul of our nation and a tragic victim of Arab hatred.
As this column focuses on the impact women have made on Jewish life and history, we will be discussing the three female cadets who were murdred.
Twenty-two years old Shir was the eldest of four daughters and an honors student. Despite being an active service soldier, she also worked with the local branch of Colel Chabad and the Chesed Menachem Mendel program. She had been tutoring a local teenager whose father had passed away a number of years ago. Their last session was on Motzaei Shabbat, just a few hours before her life was extinguished.
Leah Babayof, the coordinator of Colel Chabad in Ma’ale Adumim, said of Shir Hajaj: “This was a young woman who truly wanted to help others. Upon meeting her, you were immediately impressed by her maturity and her desire to be of service.”
“Perhaps were it not for this tragedy, the world would never have gotten to know about Shir’s dedication and remarkable caring for others,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, director of Colel Chabad. “But she is a true example of what it means to be humbly performing charity, and we can only hope that this remarkable lesson will offer some comfort to her family and friends during this tragic time.”
Yael had completed the officer’s-training course and had transferred to serve as a propaganda officer in the Education Corp. Her grief-stricken father reminisced at her funeral: “You spoke fast and it was difficult to follow. You were funny, studious and good-natured. After you got angry, you would forgive. You thought a lot. We were only together for a short while; we didn’t get enough of you. You were a teacher, a soldier, and wanted to do something meaningful in education. You took us on a tour of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in order to practice the tour you would give to cadets. We didn’t know that we had a daughter like you. We knew nothing.”
Shira was a graduate of the Reali High School and a cadet in the Intelligence Corps’ officer’s training course. She had begun her army service in the pilots’ course before transferring.
Her aunt said, “she was smart, sharp, no one could argue with her.” Her uncle added, “Ever since she was little, she tried to change her environment and make it a better place. She tried to do the best way possible, and she managed it, too.”
Three amazing young women, their devoted efforts for our people cruelly cut short, their hopes and aspirations smashed by Muslim terror. May the Almighty bless their memory and send fitting retribution to their murderers.