The drive into Jerusalem from downtown Efrat was quiet as one could think and approach the highway for last night’s program. The soldier smiled as he waived us forward to continue through the tunnels and onto Gilo. On this night, Emek Refaim Street in the German Colony section was the route to get to our destination on King George Street in Jerusalem. It was 7 00 p.m. as the traffic was quite heavy for this time of the night as there seemed to be a ‘slowing’ of cars opposite Cafe Hillel. The cars were indeed slowing down as we glanced over to Cafe Hillel on this 13th day of Elul. There were two guards, some patrons, and a few candles that passersby were lighting on this night at Cafe Hillel.

It was one year ago when the explosion of a pigua(terror attack) caused by a terrorist who had been freed from prison rang through the street of Emek Refaim at Cafe Hillel. It was a night when a father and a daughter were to spend some time together, only 18hours before the young 19year old, named Navah Applebaum, would walk down her chupa for the wedding night. Her father, Dr. David Applebaum, had just returned from a lecture series in New York to tens of doctors at NYU who were hearing from the top emergency room physician in Israel on how the Israeli medical society was ‘dealing’ with terror and treatment of terror victims from the heinous crimes of the Arabs to the Jews.

The father and his daughter were getting some late night food for their family on this, the night before the wedding, at Cafe Hillel, when both father, Dr. David Applebaum, and daughter, Navah, were murdered by the terrorist who was set free by the Israeli government only a few weeks before September 9, 2003.

We arrived at the Great Synagogue after our quick glance at Cafe Hillel for the 1st yahrtzeit(hazkara) memorial for David and Navah. The blocks around the Great Synagogue were filled with cars, pedestrians, and lots of teens. The guard at the Great Synagogue was directing the thousands of us to Heichal Shlomo, next door, as there was confusion over the venue for this 1st yahrtzeit. Were we going to the wedding which was being held at the Great Synagogue or to a memorial for David and Navah Z”L H”YD? As was the case last year, all of us were planning on attending a wedding, and instead we arrived at a double funeral. The Heichal Shlomo was the correct venue last night. The elevator was filled to capacity as the thousand or so of us climbed the four flights to the Heichal Shlomo hall.

The stage was set with a black curtain which is ironically, the same color on this ‘stage’ throughout the year. The seats were occupied and the balcony was opened as were the hallways, stairs, and foyer of the Heichal Shlomo. In the background, we could hear the music from the wedding at the Great Synagogue, how fitting to listen to wedding music, as Rabbi Spero, David’s father-in-law, an esteemed retired pulpit Rabbi who was one of the rabbinic figures for many years in Cleveland, began the first speech for the hazkara/yahrtzeit.

We were silent and somehow the music from the wedding was no longer being heard as the wedding that did not take place last year between Navah and Chanan turned into hespedim and eulogies for David and Navah, father and daughter. Rabbi Spero spoke about the ‘innovator’ of David Applebaum, the doctor and Torah scholar who brought Israeli emergency medicine to the forefront of time in Israel. Rabbi Spero reviewed the many projects and dedications and programs that were ‘born’ in the last 12months from the ‘death’ of his son-in-law and his granddaughter.

The senior Rabbi Spero from Cleveland, who now resides in Jerusalem, broke several times in his description of David and Navah. A grandfather was crying, an audience was sniffling in tears, and we stared at the stage with the black curtain, as the wedding continued next door of another couple.

Professor Dr. Yonatan Halevy, the Director General of Shaarei Zedek Hospital recounted how in the 15months that David Applebaum took over the Emergency Room of Shaarei Zedek Hospital, the entire system of emergency medicine had changed so rapidly due to David. Dr. Halevy reminded us about the David Applebaum, who would show up at 3 a.m. and at 3 p.m., or on Shabbat or on Yom Kippur in his Kittel to tend to a sick patient at Shaarei Zedek. Dr. Halevy kept crying and explaining how he ‘misses’ David each day and how David used to walk into his office, unannounced, 3-5times a day to offer advice and coooperation for a busy Director General of a hospital like Dr. Halevy.

The grandfather was crying, the head of the hospital was crying, and the audience was increasing its volume of cries.

Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik of Ramat Beit Shemesh, one of the sons of the late Gadol Hador, Rav Aron Soloveitchik Z”TL, spoke on behalf of the Soloveitchik families about David and Navah Applebaum. David would be the baal tokea, the shofar blower for Rav Aron Z”L, David was the student who continued for years after his days at yeshiva in Chicago that would call Rav Aron and the Rebbetizin every Friday from around the world to wish his Rebbe, “Good Shabbos.” On the days that David did not phone, Rebbetzin Soloveitchik, according to her son, Rabbi Chaim, would ask her husband, Rav Aron, if perhaps, David Applebaum, was too busy saving lives to phone us?

Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik remembered that after his father death, when David Applebaum became a grandfather, David phoned Rabbi Chaim in Ramat Beit Shemesh. “I have to tell a Soloveichik the good news. So David would phone the next generation of his late Rebbi, Rav Aron Z”TL”. On Hoshana Raba, when David was in Chicago, Rav Aron would ask him to join him in his sukka to say goodbye to the sukka together.

A grandfather was crying, a hospital director general was crying, and the next generation of Soloveitchiks, Rabbi Chaim, was crying, and the audience was wailing in tears.

Chaim Erentrau, the founder of Zichron Menachem, which serves the cancer stricken children in Israel began to remember Navah, who did her national service(sherut leumi) at Zichron Menachem. “Navah worked 20/7 with our children, she never gave up, she played with them, worked with them, made them smile, and kept away their cries of pain and despair. Navah would go to the airport, even after hours, at 3 a.m. to see a teenager with cancer who was going to the US for special treatment. Navah was supposed to get some time off to prepare for the wedding and each time that she was told to take some extra hours for a dress fitting or for other preparation, Navah would sneak back into Zichron Menachem to keep her kids smiling. If a child had extra chemotherapy, Navah would volunteer to stay with that child of cancer for hours and hours. One of our counselors had back trouble and was unable to take the bus with the Zichron Menachem children to an outing. Navah was off that day, but somehow she heard about her fellow counselor’s back problems which would be aggravated by the long bus ride to the tiyul.

Navah was on the bus and made her co counselor get off to lie down and rest her back.”

The Zichron Menachem stories continued about Navah Applebaum, as we watched some of the cancer stricken children cry as they heard their director’s stories about Navah last night.

A grandfather was crying, a hospital director was crying, a Soloveitchik was crying, Chaim Erentrau of Zichron Menachem was crying, and the audience was crying with the children who were living with their cancer, and without their counselor, Navah.

Tehila, a close friend of Navah, took the stage as we stared with dry eyes at the black curtains and she began to talk and cry about how she was in the USA two weeks before Navah’s wedding(death)day. Tehila was with Navah for 12years in Horev schools. Tehila could not avoid her National Service(sherut leumi)commitment in the USA and was already at her school location and would miss Navah’s wedding day.

Tehila spoke about how the girls sang “NAVAH and Tehila” from the prayers from Psalm 147, “Halleluya Ki Tov Zamrah Eloheinu Ki Naim Navah Tehila” which are said daily in our Shacharit. The girls would shout Navah Tehila for both girls as they recited their morning prayers at Horev.

Tehila broke down and told us how she got the phone call in the late afternoon in the USA about David Applebaum’s murder. At that moment, the news about Navah was not yet confirmed, one year ago, last night. Tehila asked her friends on the phone, “Let me speak to Navah.” The phone was silent as the friends then told Tehila that Navah was murdered as well. Tehila began to sing on the phone, Psalm 147, Ki Tov Zamra……. etc…. Navah Tehila….. and screamed over the 7000 miles of phones.

Tehila could not finish her speech last night………………………………

A grandfather was crying, a hospital director was crying, a Soloveitchik was crying, the director of Zichron Menachem was crying, Tehila was crying….. and the audience had no more tears left

Tzvi Sand, the father of the groom, and the would have been father in law to Navah spoke about his would have been mechutan, Dr. David, and his would have been daughter inlaw……. Tzvi was passionate and told us about E.L.Y to me…..E was the Esau, L was the Lavan and Y was the Yosef……… “We have to deal with the Esau of each generation, we learned how to get through the Lavan of our generations, but the Yosef, the brotherly sinat chinam(hatred of our fellow Jews) was still being circulated in 2004. How the government of Israel was throwing away the “Yosefs” of our Gush Katif, how Jews in 2004 were threatened to be thrown by other Jews into the pits and holes such as was done to Yosef.

A grandfather, a hospital director general, a Soloveitchik, a Zichron Menachem director, a best friend, and a father in law to be were crying, as the audience sat in silence and mourning looking for tears………

Finally, the shomeret, or the guardian, Efrat, was the girl friend of Navah that was supposed to be with her to watch over her for the last 12hours before the wedding night. Efrat told the story how she spoke to Navah as Navah and her father, Dr. David, were driving over to Cafe Hillel. “Navah, when you’re through with your private time with your Abba, call me, and I will come over to stay with you.” “Navah, remember we cannnot stay up all night on the night before your wedding, as we have to be at the Kotel for 8 a.m. for Shacharit on your wedding day. “Navah, we then have to get the hair done, the dress fitting, etc. etc. etc.” Efrat kept calling Navah and Navah’s cellphone would only ring at midnight one year ago. Efrat was supposed to ‘guard’ the bride. Efrat heard about the pigua at Cafe Hillel, and she burst out in tears remembering that Navah and Dr. David were headed to Cafe Hillel for their last private time together.

Navah’s brothers, began their conclusion of mishna Uktzin to complete the six books of mishna……… the kaddish was recited……… the entire audience of thousand answered AMEN, while the tears and screams shouted out to the heavens above us in Heichal Shlomo. As we quietly exited the hall, we began to hear the music of the wedding next door for the last dance of the other groom and bride at the Great Synagogue.