Terror Widower Remarries (6-Minute Inspirational Video)
3 years ago Kochava Even Chaim was murdered by a terrorist while driving home to her yishuv Beit Chagai, leaving her husband, Momi, and only daughter, Hodaya, bereft and broken. In this powerful video, Momi discusses his journey from grief and mourning to a return to life culminating in his re-marriage last month. Mazal tov and best wishes to the entire Even Chaim family! English translation below
Momi: All of the places of difficulty that I have struggled with regarding Hashem and my difficult questions, those are the stages that when I pass through them I see “Wow, I went up a step, I’m not in the same place any more, I went up a level.”
Kochava was my childhood sweetheart, from the age of 16 we were together, and we grew up together until the wedding. Kochava really loved guests. She really loved the soldiers [who guarded their yishuv], she would call them ‘our children.”
And we had an open home, a warm home. We tried to start a family of our own, and that was a bit of a challenge. Many fertility treatments, for many years, eight years, until our Hodaya arrived, and b”H, we rejoiced with great joy.
Narrator: Three and a half years ago a terrible event occurred that interrupted the family’s serenity. Kochava Even Chaim, who was on her way home got a ride with the couple Yitzchak and Talya Amos and Avishai Schindler, who were on their way to Beit Chagai. A car of terrorists that drove by them shot at them in all directions until they died.
Momi: I was at home. Hodaya was talking on the phone with her mother. And then she said, “Abba, I was talking with Eema, but now she’s not answering me.” I said, “OK, try again.” And she said, “She’s not answering me.” I received a message that there had been a terror attack between Kiryat Arba and Beit Chagai, and that apparently people had been killed. And between my heart and my mind there was a battle, between saying “I feel something happened” to saying “It couldn’t be!” On the way to the site of that attack, there was a military checkpoint, and the soldier stopped me and said “You can’t go past, I received an order and you can’t go by.” And I told him, “Listen, I’m going by. I have to be there.”
I went to see her, I went and identified her. I saw her, I saw the look on her face, the expression she had on her face when she was shot. She died when she was having a conversation with Hodaya, so I assume that her distress was that she wouldn’t be able to see her anymore.”
[Scenes from the funeral]
I didn’t have the question “I don’t deserve this, why did You do this to me?” That wasn’t my question. My question was: Why Kochava? Why me? Why now? Not “Why me?” in the sense of “I’m a Tsaddik, I don’t deserve this” but rather what message do you want me to receive from this? Why did You choose me?
I began a long journey, and one of my insights was that the Creator of the World wants us to serve Him at this moment from a place of difficulty and pain. That’s how He wants us. We ask why, and this question leads me to see that He’s here, He’s present, He’s watching over us, He exists, He’s here with me. I’m not alone. I don’t feel alone at all.
Hodaya has great inner strengths. She misses her mother in her own way. It’s hard for me to discuss the subject with her. Occasionally, there are moments when she’ll share a memory of Eema, but that is very rare. She channels her feelings into creativity [photos of her paintings].
Two years ago, all the girls in her class made a pin for their mothers. And Hodaya couldn’t make a pin for her mother, of course, so the teacher was very sensitive, and ahead of time she had prepared a picture frame for her and said, “Let’s make a gift for your father.” But I told her, “You can also make a pin. What’s the problem? You can.” And she said, “But how will I give it to Eema?” So she put the pin by her mother’s photograph.
Hodaya and I sat and talked and we decided to remain in Beit Chagai. We lost something dear to us, the dearest person to us. Eema, Kochava. We didn’t want to have to start everything all over again.
I arrived at a certain place of readiness, I wrote songs to get out all the pain [his songs playing in background] to get out all of the pain into those songs. That the pain would come out in a creative way and not in a way that freezes me up.
The rock of my stability was my work in the village, I’m a teacher in the youth village [for troubled youth] Kfar Chagai. The need to wake up in the morning, and get dressed [saved me]. It’s extremely difficult to decide “OK, this is a day for doing.” No, this isn’t a day for doing! This is a day when I want to go back under the covers and wait for the day to end. But despite that, you get up, get dressed. To choose life. To be with my students and to know that beyond all of my pain, they need to succeed.
The person who decided to cling to life got married a month ago at Maarat HaMachpela. Not far from the place where the tragedy took place.
Momi: To decide to get married again is a process. Not something that happens from one day to the next. It means giving up on the presence of Kochava in life. There will always be memories, but it means giving up on that place.
From the moment we came to that decision, there was no difficulty involved. There was truly great joy. A great surprise. Our Torah will continue to grow–to continue to live, not to stand still, not to stay frozen.
You discover in the end that the simplest things in life, the simplest parts of daily life, that is our greatest faith. And, in the end, from those things we will gain strength.
Direction and Editing Shimrit Shaked