The tragically accurate testimony in the Passover Haggadah that “in every generation there come forth those who wish to destroy us” is a daily reality in the life of Israeli citizens. Piguim, attacks on civilians as well as military personnel, occur on buses, private cars, army bases, schools, malls and offices. None are as horrific as attacks on children and none so brazen as in their own homes. Such an attack was perpetrated in Kiryat Arba, a thriving community in the Hebron hills, last summer.
Rena Ariel, mother of Hallel Yaffa, Hy”d, tells the tragic story. “On 24 Sivan, June 30, 2016, our daughter Hallel Yaffa Ariel, aged
13 ½, was murdered in her bed in our home in Kiryat Arba. Halleli, as we called her, was a beautiful and smart girl. She was the oldest child in our family, much beloved by her siblings and friends. She was a talented dancer who had performed in many dance recitals. She loved animals, had creative, artistic talent and was headed for an incredible future when her life was abruptly and tragically cut off. This terrible killing wounded our hearts and changed our lives forever.”
Hallel was the only person in her home at the time the attacker entered. She had been given permission to sleep later than usual before beginning her summer work in the family winery since she had returned late the night before from a dance recital in Jerusalem. When word spread of the horrific attack, Hallel’s family was joined in their grief and disbelief by the entire community.
Rena Ariel continues, “To rise up from her ashes and to continue in Hallel’s way, we are planning to build, with God’s help, Kerem Hallel—Hallel’s Vineyard—an educational center adjacent to our home. The center will invite visitors to come and hear Hallel’s story, to visit the vineyards and family winery where she worked, and to support all of those who are settling the Land of Israel on a daily basis. In addition, as part of Kerem Hallel, we are also building Gan Hallel—Hallel’s Garden—which will provide playground equipment for the school Hallel attended and where her sister currently attends. It is a small school that has experienced a great deal of terror. Through our efforts, we hope to revitalize it and give its students chizuk.”
Spreading the story of their young daughter’s martyrdom gives Rena and Amichai Ariel tremendous measures of comfort as they fortify their own emuna along with their audience’s. That was the purpose of their trip to the U.S. last September, which included a Teaneck presentation at Congregation Beth Aaron.
Rena Ariel has decided to visit additional Jewish communities in the Metropolitan area this April, once again accompanied by Elana Abelow-Kronenberg of Efrat. Abelow-Kronenberg, a proud mother of seven, first met the Ariels when she paid a shiva call to their home in Kiryat Arba. Her compassion for their grief knew no bounds and, with the kind assistance of her husband who agreed to “hold down the fort,” she came to America with the Ariels to help spread their message.
Rena Ariel and Abelow-Kronenberg will be landing in the U.S. on Thursday, April 20. They will address the students at Ma’ayanot in the afternoon, followed by a presentation at 8 p.m. at Congregation Shaare Tefillah, located at 510 Claremont Avenue in Teaneck. The evening address is being co-sponsored by Congregation Shaare Tefillah and the Young Israel of Teaneck through the joint efforts of Rabbis Schiowitz and Krohn.
On Friday, April 21, the women will be hosted by Rabbi Hecht at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, 215 Oak Street, Uniondale, New York, in the morning, followed by a lunchtime address at the North Shore Hebrew Academy Middle School. On Shabbat they will be the guests of Rabbi Lichter at the Great Neck Synagogue.
On Sunday evening, April 23, they will present at the Marine Park Jewish Center, 3311 Avenue S, Brooklyn, New York, at the invitation of Rabbi Weiss. On Monday, April 24, they will be at the HAFTR middle school in the morning, followed by a presentation at Shulamith School in the afternoon. For more information about their Woodmere appearance at 8 p.m., please contact [email protected]
On Tuesday, April 25, they will speak at Lander College for Women from 1-2 p.m. At 4 p.m. they will be addressing the JCRC-NY, 225 West 34th Street, Suite 1607. That evening, they will be back in Teaneck to address the joint sisterhoods of Congregations Beth Abraham and B’nai Yeshurun at Beth Abraham at 8:30 p.m.
On the last day of their visit, Wednesday, April 26, they will address the Fair Lawn community at the invitation of Rabbis Yudin and Markowitz at Congregation Shomrei Torah, located at 19-09 Morlot Avenue, Fair Lawn.
The Ariel family invites the American Jewish community to partner with them in perpetuating the memory of their beloved Hallel Yaffa, Hy’’d, by contributing to One Family/Kerem Hallel. To learn more about their projects and to arrange for additional U.S. appearances, please contact [email protected] or [email protected]
By Pearl Markovitz