Yesterday a bus with 27 people from my neighbourhood headed to Kiryat Arba and Otneil to make shiva calls to the Ariel and Mark families.
There are few things less comfortable than watching people you do not know, but truly feel for, mourn their needless and inexplicable loss. You want to comfort them but since you don't know them there is really very little you can say. Instead, you stand quietly and let them pour out their grief and their pain, while you listen. All the while you are trying to look at your feet because you feel like a voyeur. Your heart is hurting because your greatest fear is experiencing similar loss and if it can happen to them, then it can happen to you.
And as you drive in and out of these small, protected communities you see all the soldiers trying to keep these people safe living on land that was first purchased by our ancestors in biblical times. In my case that makes me even more anxious because one of those soldiers is my son.
"Hallel (Ariel) wasn't just murdered," says her mother in American English, "she was massacred." She unfortunately proceeds to tell us exactly what the 17-year-old terrorist did to her daughter. I surely didn't want to hear it yesterday and now I want to do whatever I can to stop hearing it repeating over and over again in my head.
"Go inside and see the bedroom (where it happened)," she suggests. I don't know why she suggests that but who am I to question how she expresses her grief? I don't go inside.
And despite everything that has happened in the past five days she is talking about hope and the need to keep going. All I can think is that I doubt I could go on under such circumstances.
However, we are met by exactly the same message when we get to the Mark house. This shiva has wall-to-wall people because all of the 10 Mark children have many visitors – not just their own friends and family, but people like the Ra'anana bus crowd.
"We must stay strong; we cannot lose our faith," says the daughter who I watched the day before cry inconsolably on a YouTube video of her father's funeral.
The same message.
This isn't theatrics; They aren't looking for attention. This isn't for the cameras and the media. There are no cameras because, outside of Israel, there is very limited interest in this story. To the greater world there is no story in a 13-year-old girl about to go to her last day of school before Summer break, get mutilated while sleeping in her bed in her house. "Well, look where they live," think the news followers outside of Israel, "she had it coming."
And what about Rabbi Mark off to visit his mother for Shabbat. He must have been looking for trouble as well.
The funny thing is that the people who commit these atrocities don't have a greater purpose in mind either. The 17-year-old who killed Hallel wrote on Facebook that he wanted to die a martyr ….. and go off to his 70 virgins. That's an honourable reason isn't it? He didn't do it to protest his frustration against Israel or Jews. He simply wanted 70 pliant lays.
Of course that's not a story for the media either. It would ruin their international construct that Jews in Israel are getting what they deserve.