June 26, 2015

United We Grow

We are a tight nation. The more fiercely we are attacked, the closer we become; the more we are threatened, the stronger we grow.

On June 11, Ayala Shapira celebrated her bat mitzvah. Seems like a wonderful simcha for any 12-year-old girl. But Ayala is not a regular 12 year old. She is a hero, a survivor and an inspiration to everyone in the country.

Just six months ago, on December 25, Ayala was in the car with her dad when a Palestinian teenager lobbed a firebomb at their car. 

The Shapira's car after it was firebombed.

Ayala, whose whole body was set on fire, had the presence of mind to exit the car, and roll when she hit the ground. After being set on fire, she found the strength to walk and find help. During this terror attack,  she suffered third degree burns over much of her upper body and face.

Since that horrific day, Ayala has been in the hospital undergoing multiple surgeries and rehab. As it was her dream to go the Temple Mount in honor of her bat mizvah and offer prayers of thanks, she was released from the hospital for a week to mark the occasion. 

In the words of Ayala's mom, "Half a year ago, we weren't sure we'd make it to this moment. She's simply a heroic girl. She decided she's not going to withdraw, rather will emerge to the world and she's emerging to the world. Her situation improves from day to day."

After this gruesome attack, the country united in prayers. Recently, the nation celebrated with Ayala, sending her videos of support and admiration, words of hope and blessings. 

The girls of my daughter’s high school sent warm wishes. As did children in a nearby Kfar Saba school.  Days of darkness here arequickly filled by light and kind deeds.

 Another example of light overcoming darkness was held here on June 3. This was Unity Day, when one million people gathered to mark the one-year anniversary of the three teens’ killing. Read last year's posting Bring Back our Boys

Comforted by Israelis from all walks of life after this tragedy, the parents of these boys decided that their sons’ legacy had to be Jewish Unity. 

 When it seems as if the world is turning against Israel, the unity here simply strengthens. Just last Friday, the Hassidic Rebbe of Vizhnitz announced that all his yeshiva students should enlist in the IDF.

This is a dramatic move and shows a complete turnaround from the standard Hareidi view of not serving in the army. And this is yet another vote for Jewish unity that strengthens us and makes our hearts swell.

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