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A year later...

Friday, 2 March, 2012 - 3:05 pm

A year after my letter to Tamar Fogel, now 12, who lost both of her parents and three siblings in a massacre inside her home, I decided  it was time to send her a follow-up letter: 

Dear Tamar,

I know it is very difficult days for you and your family, as you are marking the first Yhartzeit of five of your closest family members who were brutally killed by terrorists.

I want to share with you an incident that happened on the day of their Yahrtzeit, here in Victoria, BC.

On Tuesday evening I went to my friend’s house for our weekly Torah learning Chavruta. Just as I walked in he told me with excitement of the time he just spent with his children studying Hebrew for the JEP program. "I couldn't believe how much my son learned this year" he said. "In fact, now I need to catch up with him. I'm brushing up on my Hebrew with my children and it’s great!" When I got home I realized the significance of the day...

As you may recall, the JEP program, or in its full name "The Fogels Jewish Enrichment Program" is a project through our Hebrew School, where children practice their Aleph Bet and Hebrew reading and read from a “Jewish Heroes” book daily. At the end of the week they receive a prize.

When I wrote to you last year, I had no idea if this would turn into a reality and if it would make a mark on Jewish life on our island.

Today I can tell you, Tamar, the JEP program has effected the Jewish education and commitment of Jewish families on the island more than we ever imagined.

Here is an example: A brother and sister who joined grade 4 of our Hebrew School with no Hebrew or Jewish background at all, now started reading Hebrew, and have become inspired to discover their Jewishness, due to the "Jewish Heroes" book that they are reading every day, as part of their participation in the JEP program.

I know your parents, and Yoav, Elad and Hadas are smiling now. They are happy to see you grow in the way they have paved for you, but they can also take pleasure in the fact that their killers have not been successful, they wanted to extinguish Jewish life, but their attack ignited more flames, not only in your hometown but on the other side of the planet too.


Comments on: A year later...

Elisabeth Gelb wrote...

Shalom Rabbi,
This bitter sweet event is the story of the Jewish people. It is how we turn tragedy into elevation of the heart and mind. It is how we overcome the most vile realities of enemies bent on our destruction. This is an honorable way to remember the Blessed memory of the Fogel family. Is there a way to help Tamar and other Jewish children of violence directly? Perhaps a special fund? The presence of Chabad on Vancouver Island is immeasurable.
Toda raba!