On Thursday, March 21, 2002, Tzippora and Gadi Shemesh were murdered when an Arab blew himself up near them on King George Street in Jerusalem. Here is an account of their orphaned children after their funeral.
When the double funeral was over and the bodies of Tzippora and Gadi Shemesh were already covered by two mounds of earth, side by side, 7-year-old Shoval was brought in to see the freshly dug graves.
In a floral dress, wearing a shy smile, holding the hands of two social workers, Shoval came up and stood before the two temporary wooden markers bearing the names of her parents. The relatives who were still there came over to her, hugged her, and she looked around confused and just asked: “Are Mommy and Daddy here?” After about two minutes, the social workers took her away.
The two funerals lasted nearly two hours. Only in the morning was permission granted to bury Tzippi beside her husband Gadi, a career army man, at the Mt. Herzl military cemetery. At 12:15 p.m. the families arrived. Tzippi’s mother, Mazal, was supported by relatives and wept heart-breakingly. When the two coffins arrived, shrouded in the national flag, a heart-rending cry went up from both families: Ben Hamo from Tzippi’s side, and Shemesh from Gadi’s side.
Shoval and her three-year-old sister Shahar did not attend the funeral itself. Gadi’s brother, Mano, said, “Shoval woke up this morning and asked where Daddy and Mommy were. We started telling her. Shoval wrote a letter to her parents who are gone: “I’m writing you a letter because I’m saying goodbye to you, because I won’t see you for a long time.'”
And then, after everyone left, including Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Mayor Ehud Olmert, little Shoval came to visit Daddy and Mommy.
Shiva [the Jewish week of mourning] is being observed at the grandmother’s house in Pisgat Zeev. The two girls, Shoval and Shahar, walk among the guests and smile, as if they do not grasp how great the disaster is. On Friday, relatives, with the help of social workers and a psychologist, tried to explain to Shoval and Shahar that their parents had been killed. “Shoval understood. Shahar did not grasp it. From time to time she cries and yells that she want to go to Mommy. Shoval talks about Mommy and Daddy being in heaven, that they’re asleep and feel good. Shahar doesn’t understand. She says, ‘If they’re asleep let’s wake them,’ or ‘Let’s bring Mommy a chair so that she can get down from heaven,'” Yigal Shemesh, Gadi’s brother, recounted yesterday.
The relatives do not know yet what the two little girls will do after the shiva is over. “We’ll meet, consult with social workers and figure out what’s best for the girls.”