Heartbreaking remembrance

Posted: May 11, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Israel
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SARA K. EISEN, a blogger at The Word Well, wrote an excellent op-ed piece today, remembering almost-14-years-old Koby Mandell, a child murdered near Tekoa settlement eight years ago.

Yes, I am a man. I cannot read this without tears:

In any event, every year, on the anniversary of Koby’s death, friends gather at the graveside for a memorial service. And every year, I am stunned by Koby’s friends: First they got taller. Then they grew facial hair and back muscles, while Koby was still not-yet-14. I thought to myself, in 2004, who are these teenagers and why are they here? Until I realized they were Koby’s classmates, and my heart sunk, for Sherri and Seth, and for the world, in general, that produces the kind of cruelty that makes going on and living sometimes a great blow. Then the friends got drafted and showed up in fatigues.

This past Friday, on Koby’s eighth yahrzeit, they were young men and women, 22 years old. The gathered friends of Seth and Sherri, who are from different places and stages in the Mandells’ life and often only see each other at this event, progress in time, as well. Especially the boys’ 8th grade teacher, the young rabbi who was clearly completely devastated by the event, and who is not quite so young anymore, and continues to show up every year and recite Psalms. Koby’s yahrzeit has become a measure of time for the assembled, and maybe also, as one speaker at the services this year pointed out, a measure of self: Where am I now that I wasn’t last year or the year before? Where should I be that I’m not?

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