Following the horrific Har Nof massacre, I, like many others, traveled to Yerushalayim to visit with the families directly affected by that unspeakable tragedy.
In addition to visiting those beautiful families, I went to Hadassah Hospital to visit the wounded. In the lobby I met a plastic surgeon from the United States who had come to help reconstruct the body parts of those who were maimed.
As we were walking in the hallway of the hospital my assistant received a phone call from a prominent rabbi asking if I would visit a 22-year-old boy who had been wounded by a grenade and was in a deep coma. We went to his room and saw his mother lovingly hovering over him, kissing him, holding his hands, applying compresses to his forehead. But his eyes were shut and he did not react.
I went over to his bedside and loudly whispered, “My name is Rabbanit Esther Jungreis. I come from America and I make many shidduchim. A beautiful girl came to see me. She saw your photograph in the papers and said, ‘He looks like the type of man I would like to marry.’
“Wake up, Yoni. Give me an answer. She’s really gorgeous and sweet like sugar. What should I tell her? Give me your answer.”
Suddenly a miracle occurred. A beautiful smile lit up Yoni’s face. All of us in the room watched in disbelief. His mother called out in joy, “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, which just a moment earlier had been dark with pain, now shone with joy and hope.
As for Yoni’s beautiful eyes, they were filled with tears – tears that flowed down his cheeks. The tears and the smile mingled and became one.
A thought came to my mind. Isn’t this the history of our Jewish people? Tears and joy at the same time. Yes, in the midst of our joy we never forget our suffering. And in our suffering we never forget our faith nor do we give up our hope.
At weddings we take our children under the chuppah and our simcha overflows as we see them plant the foundation for a new Jewish home. The bride and groom smile but their eyes are moist with tears and their lips whisper a silent prayer that Hashem will allow them to establish a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael – a faithful Jewish home.
And then you hear the sound of shattered glass that recalls our holy Temple which is no more. Even as bride and groom pray for their own faithful Jewish home, they long for the reestablishment of the Temple.
And so it was that I saw this wounded young soldier enveloped in the deep sleep of a coma summoning all his energy to respond to the call to create another link in that eternal chain and establish that Jewish home. His smile illuminated his face. His tears whispered a painful message: Will it ever be? Can it ever be?
It all lasted just a moment and the young man slipped back into a coma. But that moment infused his heart and mind with the determination to fight and achieve that ultimate goal of every Jewish young man and woman – a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael.
My assistant approached me. She placed something in my hands. It was our Hineni medallion.
Following the Yom Kippur War, in which so many Israeli soldiers were critically wounded, I knew I had to do something. I asked my husband, HaRav Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, who was not only a wonderful rabbi but a talented artist as well, to make a special medallion for the soldiers. A medallion with the name of our organization, Hineni, a term we borrowed from the Torah that means “Here I Am – ready to serve my G-d and my people.”