|Visits with Families :|
You know that if you hadn’t died
Many poems would not have been written
Many stories would not have had a plot
Many photographers would have saved their film
For the latest celebrity.
You know that if you hadn’t died
The entire community would have instead
Devoted the twenty minutes of weeping
To the traffic jam on the Ayalon
Many memorial candles would have been stored in the cupboard
For a great-grandmother’s memorial service.
You know that if you had lived
Your mother would still be at home waiting anxiously for you
But would once again see
your face and smile.
Shosh Reiss, from her book
of poems “It Beats in Me So Strongly Now”
November 22, 2000
Shosh Reiss, a budding poet with many dreams for the future, was only 20 when a hate-crazed terrorist detonated a powerful car bomb alongside a passing bus on Hadera’s main street, and cruelly took her life.
The terror attack also claimed the life of Meir Barami, the father of a five- year old daughter and 3-year-old twins who were born following years of fertility treatments. 55 people were injured in the attack, including Michal, 23, Shosh’s close friend whose legs were both blown off below the knee in addition to suffering from burns over 40% of her body.
Shosh was buried in her hometown Hadera. Inscribed on her grave are the words from one of her poems:
"And I, it seems, will be silent for
quite a while
More than 7 years have gone by since Shosh’s murder but in the Reis’s home, time holds little meaning. Shosh’s mother, Tzvia, an elegant 50 year- old, is still in deep mourning for her first-born child. Only this past year and a half has she allowed herself to venture from her home to participate in Koby Mandell Foundation activities. Tzvia has attended two KMF Mothers Healing Retreats and has become a regular participant at the KMF Moa’don in Haifa where she finds comfort and companionship with other bereaved mothers who attend the monthly programs.
The Reiss’s live in a modest apartment, less than one block away from where their daughter was murdered. The couple’s two other daughters, who were 13 and 19 when their sister was killed, live at home.
The walls of the apartment are adorned with Shosh’s sketchings and paintings. Everywhere you look in the house you are reminded of Shosh’s once dominant presence.
Zvia, a cosmetician by profession, stopped receiving clients a number of years ago. Her treatment table still stands between the kitchen and hallway and serves mostly for the occasional beauty treatment Tzvia gives to her friends.
Tzvia talks about the day her life was forever changed for the worse. Shosh was on her way home from a job interview for SuperPharm pharmacy and had just called her mother to tell her that she was stopping for pizza and would be home in a few minutes. In the same phone call, Shosh, who had studied Middle-Eastern Studies in high school, mentioned her decision to finalize her plans to enroll herself for university studies in the same field.
Five minutes after that final conversation a huge explosion rocked the city.
Tzvia: “Immediately upon hearing the explosion, I gripped my stomach in agony. The pain came from my womb and felt identical to the strong labor pains I went through when giving birth to my first-born. Nobody needed to tell me it was Shosh. I felt it in the most instinctive primal way that only a mother can feel.”
Shosh’s greatest love was reading. She had a natural flair for writing and from a very young age she would closet herself in her room and write poetry and prose. Once in a while she would share with her family a poem she had written but most of her writings remained closed in a drawer.
After her death, Tzvia opened
the drawer and with a shaking hand pulled out a neat stack of pages
with small scrawling handwriting:
“I am putting all my poems nicely in order
They are not many but they say a lot
A combination of anger, sadness and reconciliation.
I grew up, and not at a slow pace
My tears that quickly turned into memory
And memories that come to an end slowly because they are no longer
The poems that sound brittle now
And the screams that sound wonderful
Boys that I thought I loved
And a boy who knows he loves me
I am putting all my poems nicely in order
After all they are not all I have.”
Shosh Reiss, from her book of poems “It Beats in Me So Strongly Now”
One year after Shosh’s death, her family compiled all of Shosh’s poems in a book titled “It Beats in Me So Strongly Now”.
Two years after Shosh was murdered, tragedy struck the family once again. Ettie Pesachov, Tzvia’s 19 year old niece, her brother’s daughter, was murdered in a terror attack when a bus was blown up in a suicide attack by a terrorist driving an explosive-laden jeep near the Carcur junction. The two cousins are buried alongside one another and Tzvia tends the small garden on her niece’s grave when she visits her daughter’s grave and her brother, Shmova, does the same for his niece’s grave when visiting his daughter’s grave.
Tzvia now finds solace in programs run by the Koby Mandell Foundation in the company of others who have suffered traumatic loss. Tzvia is even taking baby steps in the direction of finding outside interests. She is currently taking a course in English and is thinking about enrolling in a computer course. She’d like to meet new people, people who don’t know her story and perhaps even take a small trip abroad.