Choose Life: Day after terror attack, congregants return to synagogue

Within Jewish philosophy is the concept of she'erit hapiletah (שְׁאֵרִ֥ית הַפְּלֵטָ֖ה) – the surviving/saving remnant.  In othe words, no matter the terror Jews endure there will always be a small group of survivors who will continue as Jews; the Jewish people will continue.  The few Jews who survived the brutalities of the Shoah (Holocaust) of World War ll in Europe referred to themselves as the saving remnant and lived up to its highest ideals.  Although haunted by past horrors, they were not afraid, and most went on to build productive lives as Jews, as individuals, as Jewish people in Israel, the United States, and elsewhere.  

In that spirit, less then a day after Arabs armed with axes, knives, and swords hacked to death four congregants in a synagogue where they were praying and later killed a Druze police officer, leaving 25 children fatherless, the congregation, including a man injured in the attack, returned to the synagogue and continued their daily ritual of morning prayers.

Members of Kehilat Bnei Torah Synagogue returned Wednesday for morning prayers (Shacharit), the first service held at the shul since the gruesome terror attack Tuesday that left five people dead.

For the first time, a security guard kept watch at the entrance.

The regular congregants were joined by several Israeli political figures, including Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) and US-born Yesh Atid MK Rabbi Dov Lipman.

Lipman said he wanted to “demonstrate support for the regular minyan attendees” and convey the message that the Jewish people in Israel will not be intimidated by terror attacks.

“I was inspired by the intensity of this morning’s prayers and was touched deeply by the cries and tears of those who publicly gave thanks to God for surviving yesterday’s attack,” he said later.

The services also marked the return of a congregant who was injured in the attack.

The synagogue's rabbi, along with Israeli government officials and thousands of citizens, attended the funerals of his congregants and also of the murdered Druze officer, eulogizing the latter. 

Israeli authorities demolished the family home of a terrorist, killed while resisting capture, from an earlier attack and will authorize the destruction of the homes of these terrorists.  In the intertwined tribal and familial culture of the Arabs, who  cheered and celebrated the attack and innocent deaths with sweets and dances with axes, this action serves as minimal deterrence for future attacks.  It is not, as liberals wail, collective punishment on innocents. 

In addition, the Israeli government has approved of the construction of Jewish homes in the 99.9 % Arab eastern section of Jerusalem, thus reducing Arab-imposed segregation and apartheid against Jews residing in this neighborhood.  This will undoubtedly disturb the Arabs more.

The congregants will continue attending morning, afternoon, and evening services and the study sessions and classes held regularly there.  And although the families of the deceased will always mourn the traumatic loss of their loved ones, they, and the residents of the neighborhood, will continue with their productive lives.

Sadly, the terrorists' families and their neighbors will continue with their hate-filled, destructive lives, whose idea of peace is the others' destruction.  Israel, indeed the world, cannot make peace or deal honorably with people who behave that way, believe that way.  Their decisive defeat is the only way for peace on all sides.