"Who's that?" I asked my husband.Gottstein was being asked if he was angry with the driver, Yashar Yeshurun, who had been a close friend of his late father-in-law. I was too horrified and upset to wait for the answer, especially considering where I was going and whom I was about to hear.
"That's Gottstein, the young widower who survived that horrific accident that killed his only child, his wife and her entire family."
Our Women's Rosh Chodesh Elul event was going to be very special, not fun and festive, but a chance to "close a circle" and probably open a new one. Our former neighbor, Orit Deutsch Rabi had come to Shiloh to speak about how she survived an unimaginable loss.
Exactly twenty-one years and a week earlier, the Deutsch Family, Rabbi Shlomo, Orit and their six young children, the eldest all of twelve years old, were returning home to Shiloh from Jerusalem when the small family car was hit by a bus. HaRav Shlomo (ZaTza"L,) Naomi, Arele and Leah were killed. Orit and three sons survived. She sat shiva in Hadassa Ein Kerem, so they could all get their necessary medical care together. And then, Rosh Chodesh Elul, eight years to the day after their move to Shiloh, the surviving family members returned home.
How does one survive such a loss?
We're always told that G-d doesn't give us any challenge we don't have the ability to meet. But that doesn't make it any easier. It's up to us.
Orit was accompanied by her mother and her teenage daughter. Her mother is the true heroine of this story, because her mother is the one who pushed her, encouraged her, forced Orit to marry again. Together with her second husband, a widower and bereaved father, Orit had three more children, a girl, a boy and another girl. They've raised their blended family, the sons they brought with them to the union and the three joint children, with love and devotion to G-d.
Orit told us how after the tragedy she accepted G-d, putting her energies into raising her surviving sons and following the mitzvot even more carefully. G-d gives back double of what you give to Him. When asked how she keeps her faith and mood high, she readily admitted that it was a challenge.
"There are times when you are up and times when you are down. It's natural and normal. You can't expect the same level of satisfaction all the time." (paraphrased, I didn't take notes nor record her words)
Chodesh Elul Tov
L'Ilui Nishmatam, Rav Shlomo, Naomi, Arele and LeahIt was an amazing evening. I had been afraid that few women would attend because there hadn't been much publicity, but the hall was full.