Rabbanit Chana Henkin: “We Will Raise the Children as Eitam and Naama Would Have Wanted”
by Elisha ben Keemon—Ynet (translated from Hebrew by JewishMOM.com)
Please note: I will be personally delivering your condolence notes (you can leave as comments below) to the Henkins. PLEASE REMEMBER TO WRITE WHERE YOU LIVE….
“Little Itamar will never remember how his parents rocked him back and forth when he cried, Neta will possibly remember a little something and also Nitsan and Matan. But they have been separated from their parents not for a day or for a week, but rather for the rest of their lives.” These are the words of Rabbanit Chana Henkin, mother of Rabbi Eitam Henkin who was murdered along with his wife, Naama, in a shooting attack last week.
Last Thursday, the Henkin family enjoyed themselves in Eitam and Naama’s succah in the yishuv Neriya. There was no hint of the terrible tragedy which would take place several hours later and left in its wake a family in shock as well as 4 young orphans: Matan (9), Nitsan (7), Neta (4), and Itamar (9 months).
“I remember that we ate and laughed. Eitam and Naama cooked and baked, there were hotdogs and chicken and for dessert they baked a cake. It was what every family does on Chol HaMoed,” remembers Rabbanit Henkin.
“We really enjoyed ourselves, and we parted ways at around 4 PM. We returned home to Jerusalem and Eitam, Naama, and the kids drove to a get-together for old friends in Elon Moreh,” she recalled. “It’s an unusual group of friends, they have stayed in touch since they were 15-16 years old even though each has continued along his own path focusing on a different area of interest. They always made sure to meet up on a regular basis.”
But at 9 PM, when they were driving home, terrorists in a passing car opened fire on the Henkins. Eitam and Naama were shot to death, and the four children were uninjured. “The children were there. There were those who were sleeping, but there are also those who remember.”
Chana Henkin, who directs Midreshet Nishmat in Jerusalem and is considered one of the path-breakers in women’s Torah learning, finds it difficult to reenact the moment when she received the bitter news. “I was in Jerusalem, they called me,” she says with a shaking voice.
Immediately, upon receiving the news, the mother of Naama z”l, Hila Armoni, traveled to the place and took the children to Itamar and from there to her home in Peduel.
It was clear that the two grandmothers would embrace the children and would do their best to care for them….
Regarding the children, Rabbanit Henkin added: “Both families immediately understood that the children need serious and dedicated care. They have become the children of all of us, the children of all of the Jewish people.” She added, “we have conducted family meetings regarding their upbringing and are trying to find the best possible way to protect them and to raise them as Eitam and Naama would have wanted. They are intelligent children and they understand what is happening around them. Along with that, we are here for them.”
She well understands what awaits her grandchildren in future years. “Little Itamar will not remember the months during which his parents Eitam and Naama rocked him back and forth to calm him when he cried. Possibly Neta, Matan, and Nitsan will remember a little something. But we are here to raise them as closely as possible to how their parents would have wanted. It is important for me to emphasize that we have suffered a great loss as a family. Also the Jewish people has lost some very significant figures,” said Chana.
[Chana Jenny adds] Rabbanit Henkin reflected at the shiva, “We had hoped that 6 members of our family would return home safely. That was not what happened. But b”H, Hashem returned 4 of them to us. And for that we feel infinite gratitude”