Rabbanit Chana Henkin: “We Will Raise the Children as Eitam and Naama Would Have Wanted”

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”


  1. I am davening for those precious children and be’ezrat Hashem for the speedy arrival of mashiach and techiat hameitim.
    May the souls of Eitam and Naama be bound with the tzaddikim of all the generations who died al kiddush Hashem and may you and your family have nechama and besorot tovot from here forward.

    Shalavim, Israel (I live upstairs from your mechutanim whose hearts are broken and whose tefliot are with you)

  2. We are with you, we shall see them again soon with the coming of moshiach. May you be comforted. Leah, Staten Island

  3. My heart is breaking. May these children know comfort and safety as they dwell under the shadow of the Almighty. May all who care for these little ones, have strength enough and provision enough. Leisel in Arizona.

  4. Tamar Miller

    Rabbanit Henkin,

    my heart pours out to you and for Klal Yisrael during this tragic time. i am a Nishmat Alumni from the year 2001-2002 and have memories of how you opened your home to me just to have a heart to heart talk about how things were going. I always admired how wide your heart is and how friendly you make it for every one of your guests. May Hashem bless you with continued strength and emunah to bring up your grandchildren. may they bring you comfort and much nachat and may you merit to usher in mashiach and reunite with your son in the coming of days.
    המקום ינחם אתכם מתוך אבלי שארי ציון וירושלים
    Tamar Miller (Kushman) – Beit Shemesh

  5. Karen Staiman Greene

    Dear Rabbanit Henkin (and Family),
    I wish I could be there in person to offer my condolences. Your lives have touched so many, and your tragic loss has touched the entire Jewish people. I attended 2 different shuls over Shabbat Chol HaMoed and Shemini Atzeret and both rabbis spoke about Eitam and Naama. No words or actions can mitigate your loss, but please know that our hearts and prayers are with you and the children.
    המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים
    Karen Staiman Greene
    Boca Raton, Florida
    SCW ‘69
    Nishmat ‘92

  6. It is ILLEGAL to post pictures of children without blurring their faces!!!! This picture was in a magazine, too – and the kids’ faces were blurred.
    It’s also not fair to the family or children whose privacy is being violated.

    Fix it, NOW!!!

  7. Rivkah Lipsker

    I don’t know how I can possibly comfort, in no way can I say that I understand or feel your pain that is too great to fathom! and I never should have to bezrat hashem. one thing I can say on a personal level that I hope will speedy the geulah shleima and reunite us with your beloved children is that I will try that every time I have a passionate desire for something physical I will try to redirect my thoughts to desire and beg hashem for the geulah, when we wil have true peace and tranquility for am yisrael and be reunited with the tzedikim kedoshim that sacrificed thier life al kiddush hashem!

  8. I am heartbroken for you and your family. May Hashem give you all the chizuk to help raise your precious grandchildren. May we merit to see Mashiach come, and the Temple rebuilt, and techiat hameisim. May Hashem comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

    New York

  9. thank you for sending this to r’ henkin i was wondering how to get a letter to her….

    from chicago:
    Rabbanit Henkin and family,
    words cannot express the pain.
    we want you to know that from all the way across the oceans we are sharing in your pain. not a day goes by that i dont think of your children and your grandchildren who had to experience such a horror.
    Rabanit henkin, i was zoche to learn in your midrasha one summer and took a class with you.
    my grandfather was rabbi emanuel gettinger of the upper west side in manhattan, and a talmid of rav eliyahu henkin.
    hashem should bless you and your family with strength to endure.
    hamakom yinachem etchem betoch shear avelei tzion veyerushalayim.

  10. Reviva Hasson

    Dear Henkin and Armoni families,
    My heart grieves with you for your great loss.
    I feel so close to your families and my grief is as if was for my own relations. I hope that sorrow shared is sorrow halved and my prayers and thoughts go out to all of you, that Hashem may comfort you amongst the mourners of Zion. Not a day has gone by that I don’t think of your family and am pained for your loss. It is a loss to all of Am Yisrael.

    My outlook in life has been framed by my time spent at Nishmat 10 years ago (2005-2006). My approach to the observance of mitzvoth, learning and living is deeply influenced by my studies at this wonderful institution, but more than the classes it was the people- the teachers and fellow students- that made the biggest impact. This tragic tragic death has strengthened my learning and mitzvoth observance… more learning and teaching is being done in their memory and when I am feeling reluctant or lazy to do an act of chesed I find renewed will to do the chesed in their merit.

    May Hashem give you comfort and strength
    With deep connection and heartfelt sorrow,
    (nee Arnoni, Cape Town South Africa)

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