Remembering Shula

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Last year, nearly every day at 1:20 PM I would wave to Hindel as she picked up her little girl, Shula, from nursery school. Shula was Hindel’s first daughter after three sons, named after her own mother who passed away when Hindel was a child. Hindel’s love for and joy over her precious little girl pulsed between them. They shined together.

I met Hindel for the first time at a Shabbat meal about a dozen years ago, and I liked her very, very much- immediately. Hindel was and is a powerhouse, pure positive energy, living proof that a person can be extremely cool and extremely religious at the same time (tell me, how do Chabadnikim DO that??)

And then there was the news report this past Tuesday morning. Every mother’s worst nightmare printed in black and white: “3-Year-Old Daughter of Chabad Emissaries Killed in Freak Traffic Accident.” From one moment to the next, Shula was gone, run over by a driver- make that a criminal- with a previous record of 31 traffic violations and 10 traffic accidents.

Hindel will never bask in the light of Shula’s shy smile again, will never hold her soft, white hand in her own again, will never ever tuck her in with a bedtime story and Shema Yisrael again. This mother’s dream has been replaced by an unfathomable nightmare, the daughter she loved so much replaced by a gaping void filled only with loss and pain.

How strange that the inhuman murder of the Chabad Shlichim Rivki and Gaby Holtzberg in Mumbai, India also took place this month exactly a year ago…

Last night, watching the video “Vladivostok Rebbetzin” (see below) which I prepared last year in response to the Holtzberg murder provided me with the first glimmer of comfort since I heard this horrific news two days ago. It is a powerful reminder of the Jewish response to tragedy, like the one the Swerdlovs and so many community members as well as friends and family members all over the world are experiencing right now.

May this special, special family be blessed from now on with only happy events and good news!

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