Memories and Miracles

As the children lit the candles of the Hannuka menorah, some of the children shared words of encouragement.

Imma and Abba, and the three of us were all born here in Dimona. Eliora is the oldest, I am the second, and Yuval is the youngest.

We have a TV room in our house. What a room! I can’t forget it. We would sit there on the floor in the summer dressed in my Abba’s really big T-shirts. And we would all watch TV together with our dog, Roksi.

Our school was very close to our house, Imma would take us in the morning, because Abba had already left for the army. He worked as a combat engineer and he would return home very very late, every day. Most of my memories of him were from Shabbat. When Abba would return home, we would all jump up and hug him! And then he would take a shower. Sometimes, he would come and sit with us right away… with Imma and all of us together in the big TV room. The room was full of toys – it was a lot of fun.

It was an amazing time.

Abba didn’t work on Fridays. We would all wake up together calmly, and then he would go out and buy borekas, and croissants, and we would wait for him to get back, to take us to school. In the afternoon we would go to grandma and grandpa’s house to take showers and to get ready for Shabbat. On Friday night, we would all sit together, Abba would make Kiddush, and we would have our Shabbat meal.

I was eight years old when Abba was killed. I know that part of his job was building and destroying walls. He entered an underground tunnel to ensure it was free of terrorists. It wasn’t. A grenade exploded and it killed my father.

I remember Eliora telling me that Abba was not coming back and that he was in heaven.

I remember telling her, “don’t worry, I’ll get a ladder, I’ll bring him back for my birthday tomorrow!”

Eliora told me that Abba was gone forever and would not return!

I told her, “I WILL MAKE HIM COME BACK!”

I always feel nostalgia. When I feel depressed, which doesn’t happen so often, but when it does … I wipe my tears and move on. When I get a good grade on a test, I really want to show my Abba, but he is not there to see it, so I deliberately go to bed without setting my alarm so that in the morning I wake up from the birds singing!

I also have dreams at night. Last year I got really sick. My mother left me at home alone. I saw Abba there, standing by the door. I said to him.. “wait, who are you?” It was as if I completely forgot him. “Who are you???” I asked him questions, and then he took off his mask. I found myself terrified that my dead father would leave me again. So I jumped on him and hugged him! then he started asking me questions: “How are you?” “What’s new?” ” Are you doing well in school?”

When I woke up he wasn’t there anymore….but I had this crazy smile on my face……

Sometimes I look at pictures of me and my father — and I am amazed by our similarities. I am so proud of our similarities… because my father was amazing!

OneFamily has done a lot of good things for me. They have given me strength.

Today, because of OneFamily, I can proudly tell my story. There was a time that I couldn’t. I was embarrassed and afraid that people would laugh at me. It scared me to hear the word ‘orphan’.

I believe that everyone chooses how to tell their story, how to look at their experiences.

Now, I am telling my story with pride. This is my story. The story cannot be changed, but my perspective on it can. It is difficult, but I like to tell my story from the perspective of laughter and joy!

I need a moment to reflect on the people that have been there for me and who took care of me.

And I need a moment to reflect on the joy in my life.

I feel that I can tell my story in a different way.. but that longing and nostalgia for my father is always there.

I have lived for 8 years without my father.

This is my life.

But because I have had many times of joy and happiness, and because I have amazing memories, it helps me tell my story differently.

OneFamily camp is a happy place. I love the ‘sharing activities’, when everyone listens to everyone else tell their stories. There is always crying, even if someone’s story doesn’t relate to your particular experience. The stories and experiences of everyone gives me such strength. The humor is so important too! It is really comforting to know that there are other people like myself, who are filled with sadness and can also laugh! I feel more alive when their is laughter and jokes!

This is OneFamily – the joy, laughter, and togetherness of camp, accompany us home!

On Yom Kippur, Abba said that anyone who fasted before they were in fourth grade, would receive 100 shekels. Eliora fasted and received her 100 shekels. We always laugh that Abba knew that he couldn’t die until after Yom Kippur so that Eliora could get her 100 shekels! So, instead of feeling only sad, we feel sad and let happiness accompany us, as well.

I used to feel that if I spoke to the gravestone, I was really talking to Abba. I talk to Abba, even though I know that he is not talking back to me… but I talk to him every day and every time I pray.

Once it was my cousin’s birthday and Abba made everyone so happy! He put me and my cousin on his shoulders, together! Everyone laughed and laughed and laughed!

I miss that little girl, when I didn’t have a care in the world and I was always laughing.

Today I am a woman, not a little girl. Today I am strong.

I miss being a kid.

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