wonderful update: a anonymous donor has offered to match any donations over $100,000 (up to $50,000 additional)
As all of you know, this past Friday night an evil terrorist murdered a husband, his father and sister and stabbed his mother leaving her badly wounded. Miraculously, his wife, who was on the other side of the room quickly gathered her three young children and ran to safety upstairs where her twin babies were sleeping. She barricaded the door behind her, protecting her children at all costs and called for help. Living in other countries, when we hear of these atrocities in Israel, we feel saddened and angered, but we can’t help also feeling somewhat disconnected. Often these murders occur in settlements we have never heard of and we comfort ourselves with the knowledge that our loved ones in Israel are in “the safer cities or areas.” This Saturday when I turned my phone on after Shabbat, I was met with a different reality. Several text messages popped up alerting me that my wonderful first cousin and daughter of my father’s youngest brother, Michal Solomon, was the fast-thinking wife who had saved her children while listening to her beloved husband Elad’s dying screams. The pictures splashed throughout the internet were the bright faces of Michal and Elad Solomon, just as I have always seen them together, always infectiously smiling. The story of her quick wit and protective motherly instincts gives me chills. She saw the killer disguised in a white button down short and blue pants and understood immediately that evil had entered their home. She and Elad made a silent promise. He would hold off the terrorist while she would save their children. She gathered the children quietly and then slipped right behind their father's murder and upstairs to call for help.
I have known Michal since we were young kids. At age twelve, I spent the summer in Israel and I stayed in her house for two weeks. Despite being only nine, Michal willingly gave up her room whenever I was in Rechovot. This continued for every Shabbos I spent there which was a frequent occurrence during the year I lived in Israel. Whenever I or any of my family visit Israel, Michal and Elad gladly meet us anywhere that is most convenient for us. She never seems burdened that she had several young children in tow. Three years ago, when my father developed a malignant brain tumor, Michal made it her business to Skpe with him every week just to chat and check in. My father always mentioned her calls and I knew it was because her perseverance and consistency was so valuable to him. She was completely abreast of his medical condition at all times. Since my father died, Michal has continued to make my mother feel loved and cared for whenever she visits Israel. When I myself developed cancer, Michal began these same phone calls to me. No matter how many times I didn’t answer the phone, she never stopped calling.
Her own mother, my beloved Aunt Ziva, (a health conscious non-smoker) passed away this year in her early sixties from non-small cell lung cancer. Throughout her mother’s illness, Michal, Elad and their children were a constant presence in the home, cooking, laughing and offering emotional support. When Ziva died, Michal, in conjunction with her sisters and brother, continued to shop for and provide daily meals for my uncle, constantly stocking his refrigerator. They never allowed him to be alone for a single Shabbat meal. None of this surprised me. Just as in all the pictures, Michal was always smiling and despite juggling twin babies and 3 young children, I have never seen her frazzled. I can only imagine that Elad was the reason for that.
I cannot ease her pain and I cannot erase the horrific sounds and images that are burned onto the brains of her and her children. But, with everyone’s help, I can help ease her financial burden. This is all I can do, this is all we can do together. When I fly to Israel to be with her for Shloshim, I don’t know what I’ll say. There are no words. I hope, though, that I can bring her a gift that demonstrates the support of the amazing friends, work colleagues and the Jewish communities and sympathetic hearts throughout the world and including those that her cousins are lucky to be a part of: Me, her cousin Tali (Lando) Aronoff in Westchester, Dov and Zvi Lando, her cousins in West Orange New Jersey and J.J. Lando, her cousin in New York City.