From Joy To Despair
osmat Nehmad is a 12-year-old Israeli girl whose
name in Hebrew means a breath of fresh air. She's
bright, aware and friendly. She's also a surviving sis-
ter of two teens who, by fate, wound up in the
wrong spot when a Palestinian suicide bomber saw fit to mur-
der or mangle as many Israeli civilians as he could.
Bosmat is the daughter of Dalia and Ezra Nehmad, Israeli
natives of Jewish Syrian ancestry, who live in Rishon Le-Zion,
outside Tel Aviv. The town perfected groundwater mining in
the 1880s, an advancement that helped spur more Jewish set-
dement in water-starved Palestine.
One of Bosmat's newest friends is Elana
Firsht, 12-year-old daughter of Mickey and
Jon Firsht of West Bloomfield. The West
Hills Middle School student is busy prepar-
ing to become a bat mitzvah on Feb. 7 at
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield.
As part of her preparation, she yearned to
meet an Israeli girl of the same age and who
had been touched by Palestinian terror.
Elana's grandparents, Miriam and Isaac
Barr of Southfield, arranged for her to meet
Bosmat in Israel four weeks ago. With her
grandparents acting as translators, Elana
became fast friends with a native Israeli thirsting for engaging
The Barrs timed the trip so they could visit
their newest granddaughter, Karene, her par-
ents, Tamar and Gil Hermon of Ramat Aviv
Gimel, and other Israeli relatives.
"Elana and Bosmat hit it off almost imme-
diately," says Dr. Barr, a cardiologist and
devout Zionist. "Bosmat understands what
happened to her brothers and copes with it
The Nehmads had five children until last
year when Palestinian terror changed their
This latest wave of terror, dating back to September 2000,
is waged in the name of Allah with the unconditional intent
to drive the Jews from Israel. Over 33 months, terrorism has
taken at least 820 Israeli and foreign lives. Countless others
have been maimed or left distraught.
Flashback to March 1-2, 2002
That Friday night, the Nehmads were part of a relative's bar
mitzvah celebration in Jerusalem's Beit Yisrael neighborhood.
The Nehmads' two older boys also attended, thanks to a spe-
cial release from their boarding yeshivah.
The next evening, 40 members of the extended family
regrouped to mark Havdalah. Tragedy hit moments after Ezra,
Bosmat's father, who was leading the service, sent his two
older boys for wine. As the boys left the synagogue, a terrorist
detonated a bomb strapped to his body beside a group of
women with baby carriages.
"Dalia and Ezra went looking for their boys," Dr. Barr says,
"only to find Shauli, 15, dead and Avraham, 7, gravely
Nine people died instantly. In addition to Shauli, they were:
Shlorno Nehmad, 40, his wife, Gafnit, 32, and their daughters
Shiraz, 7, and Liran, 3, of Rishon Le-Zion; Lidor Ilan, 12,
and his sister Oriah, 18 months, of Rishon Le-Zion; Tzofia
Ya'arit Eliyahu, 23, and her son Ya'akov Avraham, 7 months,
of Jerusalem. Real names. Real people.
Bosmat watched in horror but was not hurt.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, tied to Palestinian Authority
leader and terror mastermind Yasser Arafat, took responsibility
for the bombing. It wasn't until this blast — shocking but no
more so than any previous act of Palestinian terror — that the
State Department woke up and added the Brigades to the
U.S. list of foreign terrorist groups. The group's ideology is
rooted in Palestinian nationalism, not political Islam.
Just last week, the official P.A. newspaper, AI-Hayat Al-
Jadi da reported that a summer camp was newly named for
"martyred" Jihad Al Amarin, the Brigades founder who Israel
targeted as a defensive killing last year.
The toll from the March 2 bombing rose two days later
when Avi Hazan, 37, of Moshav Adora died of his injuries.
More than 50 people were hurt in the blast, including
Bosmat's brother Avi.
"Dalia traveled daily from her Rishon Le-Zion home to
Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital to visit her son,"
Dr. Barr says.
Avi Nehmad died June 20, 2002, 3 1 6 months after he had
the misfortune of going for wine the same time a brainwashed
Palestinian youth settled on an ultra-Orthodox street to seek
"glory" from "martyrdom."
The bomber scarred even those who escaped injury.
"Bosmat's father is but a shadow of himself," says Dr. Barr.
"He's devastated for taking his sons from boarding school and
sending them for wine."
As Elana consoled Bosmat, the Barrs comforted Dalia with
tales of Jewish resolve, no matter what the horror; Miriam is a
I found resonance in Dr. Barr's assessment.
"No pills or psychiatric care will bring the
dead back," he says, "but in death, they bring
strength to those who survived."
What can Jews in Israel and the diaspora
alike do to harness this strength?
Dr. Barr puts it eloquently: "Give your
family your love and compassion. Educate
them about our tradition and to respect it. Be
strong in your belief that Israel will prevail."
With justification, Dr. Barr traces the blood
of Bosmat's older brothers to Yasser Arafat's doorstep.
"Arafat was always consistent in his plan to destroy Israel,"
says Dr. Barr. "No coexistence was ever on his agenda. He is a
master of deception, manipulation and intrigue. He will not
hesitate to kill Palestinian dissidents. His secret police are
everywhere, allowing a revolving door for Palestinian criminals
and terrorists. He violated every agreement with Israel and
brought on the Palestinians the worst hardship possible."
With Elana's blessing, the Barrs brightened Bosmat's future
by setting up a higher education trust in her behalf.
Says Mickey Firsht about her daughter, away at summer
camp: "Elana was very sad after she met Bosmat. The idea
that two of her brothers died, as well as other family mem-
bers, was hard to imagine. Elana felt that we should help
Bosmat and her family. They are not well off financially, and
now her father has fallen apart emotionally.
"I think Elana has gained some appreciation for the life she
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