The entire Jewish world was shocked by last month’s Har Nof Massacre, when two Arab terrorists murdered four men and injured several more in the middle of Shacharis in a local Jerusalem shul. As the shloshim of the victims approaches, a new book about the massacre, its victims and the deeper message of this tragedy has just been released.
Living On: Messages, Memories and Miracles from the Har Nof Massacre is the brainchild of Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis, Rosh Kollel of one of the victims, a friend and neighbor of the four victims, and a fellow congregant at Kehilas Bnei Torah, the shul where the attack took place.
“I knew each of the four kedoshim personally and I davened at that shul every day for years,” said Rabbi Travis. “The idea for this book came during a Shabbos discussion with another Har Nof resident. We felt that following such a tragic event, and in light of our personal connection to the kedoshim, something major had to be done to preserve the momentum that had been generated.
“By the next erev Shabbos, the book was already written, edited and on its way to print. Anyone who knows anything about the usually interminable process of book publishing acknowledges the Divine Assistance we merited.”
The book is made up of three main sections: Miracles, which details the unfolding of the attack and its aftermath, and includes many incredible stories of salvation from survivors and eye-witnesses; Memories, which explores the special qualities of the four victims, as told by close family and others who knew them; and Messages, which delves into the inner meaning of this tragedy, which we must try to comprehend with the help of our Gedolim.
The concluding section, entitled “Living On,” explores how we can carry on yet as always, yet meaningfully changed, in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Notable contributors to the book include: HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman shlita; HaRav Moshe Sternbach shlita, Av Beis Din of Jerusalem, whose son survived the attack; HaRav Yitzchak Mordechai Rubin, rav of Kehilas Bnei Torah; HaRav Zev Leff, and many other Torah luminaries.
“Most of the news reports of the Massacre were gruesome and depressing,” said Rabbi Travis. “But this book takes a completely different view. We explore the pain of the people involved but we also highlight the many miracles experienced on that day; the incredible faith of the widows and survivors; the outpouring of chessed that followed the attack; and the meaningful messages that emerged. This book seeks the true Jewish perspective. We showed the manuscript to the survivors and they agreed that it reflects the deeper message we should all be seeking.”
The challenge of taking such an atrocity and finding messages of hope within it seems formidable. But several survivors of the attack and relatives of the victims were extremely supportive of the project and helped provide the content.
“The first thing I said when I woke up was the Pasuk ‘Ashira laHashem bichayai,”I will sing to Hashem with my life’ (Tehilim 104:33)” said Rabbi Shmuel Goldstein, who sustained severe head injuries after being attacked by one of the terrorists with a meat cleaver. He was interviewed extensively for the book. “Now I appreciate that so much more; that every second that Hashem gives me life, it’s not a onetime present, it’s a constant present that Hashem gives and keeps giving. Even though it is looked at as a very bad story, there are so many miracles that Hashem did.”
The book presents itself as a double chessed: it helps reader process this traumatic event in a positive way, while giving tzedakah to the widows and orphans. The publication was fully sponsored by generous donors, so one hundred percent of proceeds from sales of the book will go to victims’ families.
Living On: Messages, Memories and Miracles from the Har Nof Massacre is available at Jewish bookstores or online at Feldheim.com.