On a sunny, mild weather break following days of torrential rainfall, sneakered, 28 year-old Tomer Ditor set out from his home in Rosh Tzurim, Gush Etzion for a run. His route took him from the gate of Rosh Tzurim down the newly and partially constructed pedestrian path built in memory of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, the three boys who were murdered in the summer of 2014.
Where the path ends, Tomer began running on the side of the road which leads to the nearby community of Alon Shevut, but his destination was not Alon Shevut. He made a left onto a dirt road known as Derech Avot, “The Path of the Patriarchs,” which leads to the community of Neve Daniel. Tomer ran on the road, past ancient Roman road markers and past the two ancient mikvaot – one for men and one for women – which were used by Jews going on aliyat haregel to the Beit Hamikdash.
Not wanting to be encumbered by extra weight, Tomer carried no water, no cell phone and no pistol. Tomer ran to the end of Derech Avot. As Tomer turned around for the continuation of his run, he noticed an Arab loitering. Tomer told himself that he has to keep an eye on the Arab. A short while later the Arab ran up to Tomer, brandishing a knife. Tomer struggled with the Arab with all of his might. The attacker managed to stab Tomer on the right side of his head, on his neck and on his left hand, whereupon the assailant fled back to the nearby Arab village of Nachlin.
A jogger came by and saw bleeding Tomer. The runner called for an ambulance. Tomer was conscious the entire time. The ambulance arrived, and the volunteer paramedic was none other than Dror Shusheim, a neighbor of Tomer’s family.
When Tomer’s mother Margolit was called, one can imagine the surge of adrenalin that raced within her and the trembling that she felt. She related to me, “Tomer spoke to me and said that he is O.K. But I was still very worried. When Dror Shusheim described Tomer’s medical status, it somewhat lessened my deep concern.”
Margolit is so thankful to Hashem that the wounds were of a light nature. She shudders to think what could have been. Perhaps zechut avot on Derech Avot is what saved Tomer’s life.
Tomer’s sister Orit found out about the terrorist attack when she called home to ask if her parents would be going to Sharei Tzedek Hospital. Orit’s intention was to see if she could come with her parents to see the baby boy who had been born early that morning to her brother Elad and his wife Bat El. Upon receiving the call from Orit, Margolit thought that her daughter had already been informed about the attack and was calling about visiting Tomer. Life certainly has its twists and turns!
The first time I spoke to Margolit after the terrorist attack, I asked her if a social worker had approached Tomer to help him deal with all of the emotional issues surrounding the attack. Margolit explained, “Three social workers spoke to Tomer – one from the hospital, one from National Insurance and one from Ariel University where Tomer is studying urban engineering.” Tomer seems to be dealing well with the murder attempt. (Symptoms of Post Trauma Stress Disorder usually begin within three months of a traumatic incident, but sometimes they start years later. His family and friends need to be aware of this possibility and keep their eyes open for symptoms.)
Tomer was hospitalized for one day and then discharged with instructions to rest at home. I visited Tomer that erev Shabbot, three days after the attempt on his life. His bandaged hand was apparent and I asked him where his other wounds are. He showed me the bandage on his neck and the wound to the side of his head.
That same erev Shabbot there was a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) morning run on Derech Avot with scores of runners participating. The event was called “We will not stop running on Derech Avos.” People were urged to come with a smile. Tomer ran holding an Israeli flag. His family was present as observers. He and the other runners ran past the place where he had struggled for his life.
Several days later I attended the brit milah of Tomer’s nephew. I was thrilled to see Tomer taking an active role as photographer. baruch Hashem, his left hand no longer sported a white bandage, the side of his face looked a lot better and if he could be wearing a camera strap around his neck than I surmised that his neck wound must have healed. After the brit I approached Tomer to wish him a mazel tov. I asked him, ”How are you feeling?” He answered, “I am feeling well.”
The infant was given the name Eitan Yisrael. Eitan means “strong,” “steadfast,” “permanent.” For me, the name encapsulates the idea that we must daven that Am Yisrael have emuna and be strong and unyielding in her present fight for survival against enemies who wish that we cease to exist. May Hashem bring us to victory over evil. May we walk, run and travel safely in our land.
P.S. Soon afterwards Tomer became engaged. The chuppah was a very emotional one for those who knew about the attempt to murder him because he is a Jew. And a proud one at that!Adina Hershberg