Sunday, March 15, 2009

Koby Mandell o.b.m.

Our son Koby was a boy who loved his family, his parents, his 2 brothers and sister. He loved his countries, America and Israel, and he loved our village of Tekoa and he loved the land of Israel. He was murdered by terrorists for that love, while out hiking with his friend Yosef Ish Ran. On May 8th, the 2 boys skipped school to go hiking near our home. He was killed brutally, viciously, in a cave, pummeled with bowling ball sized rocks. He was killed with utter cruelty.

Koby was a boy with a fierce intelligence. He was innocent and sophisticated at the same. He loved sports, he loved learning, he loved hiking, and most of all, he loved laughing. He loved telling jokes. He was very funny, and he loved to laugh.
Koby was very modest and didn’t brag to us about any of his accomplishments. He loved to read and would read the same book over and over till he had it memorized. He loved learning Gemorrah.
He moved to Israel when he was in 4th grade and it was very hard for him, because he couldn’t speak Hebrew and he missed his friends, but he never complained.

Koby, as the first-born, was the first in our family to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah. In addition to the Bar Mitzvah itself in the synagogue, the festivities included a party with dancing and trips around Israel. Many family members from America joined us in the festivities. After all the celebrations I asked Koby what the best part of his Bar Mitzvah celebration had been. “The Torah reading, ” he answered.

Koby understood the importance of loving his heritage. He never complained that we had dragged him away from Silver Spring where he had been very happy. He was happy to be part of this country.
Now he is part of this country’s history, and in his memory, others are being healed. I know he would be proud of how his spirit is contributing to helping the people of this country.

At the shiva, a boy came to us and told us that that week, the boys had to pair up in gym class for volleyball practice, hitting the ball back and forth. Koby had first choice and could have chosen anybody. He was the best player in the class. The boy, who was short and wore glasses and who spoke in a whisper said—“Koby chose me—and I am the worst player in the class.”

As he said about a boy who had been killed in a terrorist attack a month before his own death—“It’s sad for the boy, but it’s sadder for those left behind. “

It’s sad for us Koby. But each day, we continue to create, and to transform the cruelty of your death into kindness.

Sherri and Seth Mandell

The Blessing of a Broken Heart tells the story of an American Jewish woman, Sherri Mandell, whose search for meaning leads her to make aliyah and settle in Israel with her family. It is also the story of a woman learning to live with the challenges of motherhood and raising four kids. The key dramatic event is that her eldest child, Koby, is killed in a brutal terrorist attack. But it’s her path, her search for meaning AFTER the tragedy that is the real heart of the story. Sherri learns to find comfort from her community, to pray with meaning, and ultimately to turn her grief to action as she and her husband start a camp in Israel for other victims of terror. The play was awarded the Edgerton New American Play award in 2007, and presented professionally at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. It ran for two weeks to sell-out crowds. It is a piece that reaches across cultures as it depicts the universal emotions that follow loss, and one Jewish woman and her families heroic search for new purpose and meaning following personal tragedy. The play features gripping drama, warm depictions of family, surprising humor, traditional spiritual Jewish songs, and vivid video/slide images of the Holy Land of Israel.

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