Thanks to private support from many circles, Israel Resource News Agency has produced a pilot film for what will hopefully evolve into a full fledged documentary concerning the plight of victims of terror.
The first family that the IR video deals with is the family of Chana Nachenberg, a woman who has been lying in a coma, described by her doctors as a “permanent vegetative state”, ever since she was injured by Arab terrorists in the Sbarro restaurant attack last August.
Chana’s mother, Paula Finer, who was interviewed for the film, recently provided the following personal account to a visiting delegation of Jewish Americans who came to visit Paula at the Reuth Medical Center where Chana is hospitalized.
“We would like to thank you for coming to see us, your kind support, and the Reuth Medical Center for enabling us to meet with you this afternoon.
My name is Paula Finer. I am not a speaker or a politician. I am a mother – the mother of my newlywed son Zev who was just called to reserve duty in Gaza, the mother of my second daughter, Shoshana, who lives with her young family in the West Bank settlement of Eli. And the mother of Chana Tova
Chaya Nachenberg who lies here in this hospital attached to a respirator because she was hit in the heart and lung by shrapnel in the Sbarro restaurant, terror suicide bomber attack. Chana was rushed to Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem but by the time she got there the bleeding from her damaged artery caused her heart-beat to stop. The doctors immediately operated to resuscitate her but the anoxia to her brain has left her unconscious till today.
Chana remained in the intensive care unit in Hadassa for 7 weeks before she was transferred to Reuth. The doctors say that Chana is in a persistent vegetative state – a condition with a poor prognosis. The R.M.C. here provides wonderful care for Chana’s physical condition, and we her family work with her every day (except Shabbat) from morning till night trying to stimulate her to awareness. We work and pray for another miracle. We give her things to smell, like vanilla or mint and work using all five senses. For this reason, I often wear my bright red hats.
The first miracle was that Sara, Chana’s three year-old daughter, who although she sat by her side, was untouched by the blast. But the trauma of seeing her mother fall over, of being taken in the ambulance with her unconscious mother, of being deprived of her mother’s warmth, smile, hugs and kisses has left an indelible scar on Sara for life. Sara comes to see her mother here, kisses her, brushes her hair but her once bubbly mother can not respond. The psychological scars are exemplified by Sara’s reactions to things that other children take as fun. Yesterday, Sara went with her father to a Lag Be’Omer show where a magician performed. A trick with a flash of fire caused Sara to burst into hysterical crying. Fireworks also bring out the same reaction. It is difficult for David, Chana’s husband, who has to cope every day, as a single parent.
The terror attack on August 9, 2001 has changed our lives. Yet, our family works hard together. When Chana’s husband David returned to work, it fell upon me and my husband Itzie, to take Sara to kindergarten in the morning.
We leave our house at 6:45 to allow David to get the 7:00 o’clock bus. My husband rushes to synagogue while I feed and dress our granddaughter. At 7:45 he returns and we take Sara to Gan (kindergarten). Then my husband hurries off to his course while I have just a short while before I leave for the hospital. It is a long day. After his course, my husband comes straight to Chana where we stay till 8 p.m. By the time we get home we are exhausted from the long grind. Sometimes we would like to take a few hours off but we are stopped by the recurrent crises – bouts of pneumonia, urinary infections caused by the catheter, and just unexplained temperature spikes that occur in the vegetative state.
We would like to go home and write the many thank you notes that are in our hearts to all the people who have helped us since August 9, but after a long day we simply don’t have the energy. I used to work teaching English lessons in the afternoon, but now my job is to teach my daughter, Chana Tova Chaya.
To sing to her, talk, tell her stories, to move her arms and legs, to wipe her mouth. Hoping for a miracle that may never come.
Innocent people have lost their lives or were maimed in violent terror attacks. We are the victims, not the aggressors. It hurts to read and watch the news every day. We are frustrated. We are fighting for our existence – for security and peace, yet the world through biased media coverage sees us the villains. The viscous attack this past Shabbat received one small paragraph in the international edition at the end of an article about Israel’s hesitance to cooperate with the U.N Jenin investigation. Israel, at the expense of their public relations, respects the privacy of the affected families. They do not use sensationalism to win a point. People around the world cannot and do not realize the long lasting effects of these terror attacks. You are here now, and perhaps you can bring back some of these messages to your communities.
Again, thanks to the Reuth Medical Center for their care and dedication. Thank you again for your support – for coming to Israel in these hard times – to show us we are not alone. Your caring gives us strength to go on every day. May you continue to have Chana Tova Chaya and all Israel in your prayers. Thank you”.