I CALL it Terror Victims Row, says David Rubin.
Right around the corner from where I live, in the heart of Shiloh, take an imaginary walk on that street. You come to the first house on the street. Here lives the family whose 16-year-old was killed while studying Torah in his high school library.
The very next house on that street is the former house of Shmuel, 17, who was killed standing on a bus stop waiting to take his exams.
The very next house on that street you come to 19-year-old Gila, who was killed while standing at a bus stop when a terrorist came with bomb.
You go three houses further down that block and come to the house of 17-year-old Avi, who was killed while playing basketball at his high school when a terrorist came with a machine gun, killing Avi and several of his friends.
You go around the corner from that house and you come to the home of five-month-old Yehuda, who was killed when teenage terrorists were throwing rocks at cars and a huge boulder nearly a foot wide hit Yehuda in the head. He died several days later.
David Rubin is talking about Terror Victims Row because he was a terrorist victim himself.
Long after he is done with his story, Rubin adds, almost as an afterthought, . . . and not one of those families [on that street] left Israel. You have to listen carefully to Rubin because he makes his points almost incidentally. Thats because by the time he makes his points, they have been overshadowed by his story itself, spoken smoothly, without anger or even emphasis. His voice, without trying, says a lot: If these are the facts of our lives, so be it. Were here. Staying. Were home.
I WAS coming back from Jerusalem with my three-year old son buckled in the back in the baby seat.
Riding on the main north-south road on the mountain ridge connecting Jerusalem to Shiloh and onward to Shechem [Nablus], on the last night of Chanukah, half way home, the bullets started flying.
Massive firing. The car went completely dead. I saw four orange sparks whizzing past my eyes from right to left.
I realized, they were shooting from the right side of the road and the bullets had tracers on them so they could see where the bullets were going.
I felt a bullet go into my left leg. The blood started coming out almost like an open fire hydrant. The bullet rammed into my leg like a tons of bricks.
My leg was pounding. The bullets still flying; the car, dead. Then I remember that my three-year-old son is sitting behind me. I turned around to him and said, Rubi, are you OK? His eyes were wide open. His mouth was wide open. He looked like he was trying to scream or to cry but no sounds were coming out.
I could see that he was breathing and there was no blood on him, so I assumed that he was OK. He was just in shock.
But I had in my head that the next community up the road, Ofra, usually has an ambulance stationed there. I had in my head I have to get out of here. The bullets were still flying.
I turned the ignition and the car was dead.
I shifted gears park, drive, neutral shifting gears and trying to start the car each time. The car was dead.
Finally, on the fifth or sixth try, I turned the ignition and the car started as if it had never had a problem starting before.
I hit the gas 120 miles per hour to get to Ofra, where I hoped I could get an ambulance.
All the while the blood was coming out of my leg. I put my hand down to try to stop the blood and it started bleeding even more intensively. I was banging the button of the CB radio (machshir kesher); I didnt have a cell phone, only this two-way radio, which connects to security services in Samaria, which are in touch with the army.
But there was no reception.
I got up to Ofra. Pulled up to the gate. Every community in Samaria has these metal gates at the entrance of the community to keep out car bombers.
I start shouting to the guard at the gate: Ambulance! Please get an ambulance!
He didnt seem to hear me.
There was a young woman on the side of the road and she started jumping up and down screaming, ambulance, ambulance, dont you hear?!
At that point everyone within sounds reach came running up to the car. A group of teenagers was at the bus stop. And the gas station attendant. He opened the door, ripped off my shirt and started wrapping up my leg to stop the blood flow.
He said: Im also a medic. Dont worry. I know what Im doing. Then he handed me his cell phone and said, quick, call your wife. I couldnt dial. My whole body was shaking. Perhaps from the cold, or from the loss of blood.
He dialed for me. And I told my wife, Ive been shot in the leg. Hopefully, soon an ambulance will be coming to take me to the hospital. And Rubi is OK.
Just then, an ambulance did pull up. One of the medics came running up to my car and he started unbuckling my son from the baby seat. I said: No, leave him alone. Hes just in shock. He needs to be with his Aba [father]. But the medic said: No, sir, I have to take him out.
He pulled him out of the car, cradled him in arms, ran to the ambulance, screaming, Hes also been shot, shot in the head.
At that moment I suddenly realized that this was a lot more serious than I thought. Being shot in the leg OK. Legs can recover, G-d willing. But having your three-year-old son shot in the head suddenly I became very emotional. I didnt quite know how to handle it.
They wrapped his head with bandages, put an oxygen mask on his face, quickly put both of us on stretchers and whisked us into the ambulance.
The took us to Hadassah in Ein Karem in Jerusalem because it has a good childrens intensive care unit.
We got to the hospital, the ER rooms got to work on us.
After about 20 minutes, and after a lot of pain killers, the head surgeon said: Were going to have to operate on both of you within the half hour. It will be the first of several operations. But theres someone here who wants to talk to you.
Someone came up to me whom Id never seen before. He said: Im the PR director of this hospital and I just want you to know that you are the 1,000th victim of terrorism to be hospitalized here in the past year-and-a-half. This was the end of 2001, in December. [The second intifada began in September, 2000.]
I wasnt sure how to deal with this dubious honor. He quickly said, I am just telling you because, since you are the 1,000th victim, the media is massing outside this ER and its almost time for the evening news. And they want to interview and photograph the 1,000th victim. If you dont want that, Ill keep them away. Its my job to protect your privacy.
I thought for a split second and I thought of all the children whom we knew just in our own neighborhood who had been wounded in terrorist attacks, and I thought of the families that would actually drive in their cars wearing bulletproof vests, and I said: No, you bring them in. I have plenty to say to them.
AND Ive been telling this story every since.
I tell this story not because of our personal trauma there are so many families that have suffered far worse. I tell this story because it is a story of miracles.
And one who has been through an experience like this and has experienced miracles has an obligation to tell the tale and publicize the miracles. This is actually closely connected to the fact that this happened on Chanukah, the holiday of miracles.
First miracle: I was shot in my left leg even though the terrorists were shooting from the right side. The bullet missed my right leg, which enabled me to drive my automatic car to get to the ambulance.
Second miracle: the bullet that went into my sons head and through his neck caused a skull fracture and internal bleeding in the cerebellum. But it missed his brain stem by one millimeter.
Those are the kinds of miracles that we call hidden miracles. They take spiritually trained eyes to see.
But then there are revealed miracles that kind of stare us in the face that cant be denied, like the splitting of the Red Sea or the revelation of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. On my fifth day in the hospital, I get a call from the mechanic. He has the car, hes started ordering parts, the car has 49 bullets holes, its going to be major job to fix the car.
The car mechanic was named Erez. I said, Erez, I dont care about the car. I havent thought about the car once since I got to the hospital. The car isnt important to me any more. My son is in intensive care, sleeping 22 out of 24 hours a day from the internal bleeding in his brain. He has total memory loss. Doesnt remember his siblings. And youre calling me about a car?
Erez says: Im just calling because I have to ask you a question. Then he paused for about 10 seconds. Then I heard a faint voice on the other end, asking in in a way that almost didnt sound like him: Why cant we start that car?
And a chill went down my back and my eyes filled with tears, because I suddenly realized that a miracle had occurred that could not be denied. I know that the car went dead when the bullets hit. I know Iwas coasting down the road trying to start the car, shifting gears and trying to start the ignition in every way I could and the car was dead. Finally, the car started as if it had never had a problem starting before. And I drove at nearly 120 mph to get to the ambulance. Now the car mechanic tells me, the car promptly went dead again, and it had to be towed from Ofra to Bet El, to file the report of the terrorist attack with the police; and from there the police couldnt start it, so they had to tow it to the garage in Jerusalem, and now hes telling me they cant start the car.
Ive been a believer in the G-d of Israel for over 30 years, but up to then I always had a little of that old New York skepticism when it comes to personal miracle stories. But Im not a skeptic any longer. We were just carried by the Shechinah, G-ds Divine Presence, to get us to that ambulance.
And after that attack I knew that I was not the same any more. Something had changed in my life. And several weeks later, when my son came back from the hospital, he was waking up screaming every single night, almost like the scream he was trying to make in the car that he couldnt make. My wife and I realized that there were psychological traumas that needed to be healed.
The more I explored this, the more I realized that there were so many children suffering from similar trauma.
With children you dont see the trauma right away. If its not treated, they bury it, and it comes out in all the wrong ways. And thats when I realized that I needed to start the Shiloh Israel Childrens Fund.
So many people have suffered so much trauma an adult who suffers trauma from terrorism can go to a therapist and talk out the trauma. A child is different. Children bury it inside. And unless its treated, it will come out in sleepless nights, anger against parents and friends, excessive aggressiveness, difficulty in learning.
So the Shiloh Israel Childrens Fund established programs for children using music, using art, using animals we established a petting zoo and a therapeutic horse riding farm. All this to help the children ease the traumas of terror, while at the same time rebuilding the biblical heartland of Israel.
It is not just the children who were attacked who suffer. The children around them also suffer. I tell you the story so you understand the intensity of the terrorism that we face.
THE Shiloh Israel Childrens Funds therapeutic programs treat hundreds of children from all over Samaria, the majority from Shiloh township. It also works with schools, parks and playgrounds.
Rubi, David Rubins son, is no longer a patient. He is completely healed, now preparing for his Bar Mitzvah.
David Rubin, a former mayor of Shiloh and a teacher for 25 years before he founded the fund, visited Denver on its behalf in June.
Copyright © 2011 by the Intermountain Jewish News