Rabbanit Chana Henkin: “I Share My Pain with HaKadosh Baruch Hu” (6-Minute Video Interview)
This week, 5 weeks after the terror attack which killed Eitam and Naama Henkin HY”D, Rabbanit Chana Henkin was interviewed by renowned Israeli news reporter Sivan Rahav Meir about the terror attack and her life today.
Rabbanit Henkin: Yes, this was Eitam’s room.
Sivan Rahav Meir: The childhood room of Eitam Henkin is being renovated now, for his children.
RH: Now we are arranging cabinets here, so the children’s clothing will be organized.
SRM: The grandchildren
RH: Yes, the grandchildren. For their toys as well.
SRM: Since the terror attack the children have been living with Naama’s parents, but they come frequently to their grandparents in Jerusalem.
SRM: Are you a grandmother who is a somewhat returning to being a mother?
RH: No, I’m a grandmother who is trying to act as a grandmother.
SRM:That terror attack on Succot marked the beginning of the current wave of terror. Now Rabbanit Chana Henkin has requested to speak…
SRM: First of all, how are you?
RH: We are 5 weeks after the murder of our children. We try to go on, we try to smile, and inside it’s painful.
SRM: She had been at the home of Eitam and Naama several hours before the terror attack, and when they returned home they heard the news.
RH: A storm. Destruction came down to the world. The first thing that a person thinks of, that a parent thinks of, is of the children. What are they going through? What did they see, etc?
SRM: What do you know about the struggle with the terrorists?
RH: Right after the shiva, we returned to the site of the terror attack, and we saw the skid marks from when the car came to a stop. Eitam stopped the car…before he would lose control, with his last bit of strength. And Eitam, who was injured, opened the door of the car and with his last bit of strength he attempted to push the terrorist away from his wife and children. And the other one, with the submachine gun, shot Eitam. And the terrorist that Eitam struggled with was injured. The first terrorist stopped shooting and came to take him away.
SRM: You think that this is how the children were saved?
RH: I have no doubt.
SRM: One of the terrorists said in his interrogation that they had felt sorry for the children.
RH: I am certain that it is to their benefit to say things like that in the interrogation. If they felt sorry for the children, they wouldn’t have murdered both of their parents.
SRM: How are the children?
RH: Everywhere I go, people stop me and ask me how the children are. I am prevented from answering because as children, they need their space. It’s possible to be happy, but the reality doesn’t leave us.
SRM: Don’t you fear that they will forget their parents, especially the younger ones?
RH: That is a question which we ask ourselves. Matan sat next to me during the Azkara [memorial service.] And when he heard Rabbi Shai Hirsh tell how his father used to sit in synagogue and study halacha with Matan, then Matan told me, “He’s right! Exactly!” Those are the things which we know we must preserve for the two older children. And for the younger ones, we will have to tell them stories and show them photos
RH: [Showing a book] This is the first book on halacha written by Rabbi Eitam.
SRM: Rabbanit Henkin is very proud that her son was a rabbi and a Torah scholar, and labored to put out his final book. She is considered a leader in Torah study among women, and recently went back to teaching. This is what she told her students on the first day back:
RH: I feel that these days we are witnessing the greatness of the Jewish people. We see people who are coming out to assist others. It’s something incredible. Unarmed people have come out to battle the terrorists with their bare hands. That is the other face of the embrace which we received during the shiva and ever since. The feeling that we are one people and we have one destiny. That we are together in this struggle.
SRM: You are people of Torah, of faith. Do you have questions for Hashem now?
RH: I share my pain with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. That’s true.
SRM: You don’t ask questions…
RH: I have no reason to ask. I believe that Hashem puts us in the world not in order to received vouchers for a free Shabbat at a hotel. Hashem gives us roles in life. He doesn’t ask us, “Do you want to receive this? Are you happy with the way things are developing?” I tell Hashem every day that I am not happy, and I know that he is there to listen. But I also know that I have a role to continue. And I am trying to do that to the best of my ability. I’m sorry [wipes away tears].