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Valuable Lessons

Valuable lessons from a 17 year old terror victim

By Betty Levy

When I was 6 years old, my grandparents were driving me to a Purim celebration in Tel Aviv when a terrorist set off a bomb at the Dizengoff Center. My grandmother went into shock but we were not injured. 22 people died that day. I never thought too much about that day until a year ago on July 12, 2005.

My best friend and I went to the Netanya Mall to buy balloons for a friend‘s birthday party. As we were walking into the mall, there was an explosion behind me on my right side. I was knocked unconscious and awoke several hours later in LlaniadoHospital to a different world. All I knew was terrible pain and fear. I was covered in burns and damage from the shrapnel and chemicals in the bomb. I was 16.


In a moment I had gone from someone who was always happy, smiling and laughing to a person I did not know. Through the pain, I could not find myself. I could not connect with my family with whom I was so close. I could not stand to have anybody near me. I was lost.

After a few months and many painful treatments and procedures, I was fitted with a pressure suit. Imagine being wrapped up in clothing that squeezes you all of the time. It was very uncomfortable and to cover it, I had to wear clothing that was enormous. I felt horrible and very angry.


One day, I realized that the worst thing had happened---the terrorist had won. He had destroyed me. I became determined and found in myself a strength I did not know I had. There had to be a way back. I forced myself back to school even though I could not sit or concentrate. One day, I even stood up in class and pleaded with everyone to please treat me as they had before instead of as a terror victim.


I grew up in a secular home but I made a commitment to attend synagogue each Shabbat. Immediately, 6 of my friends decided to join me. For the past 6 month, we walk to synagogue together every Friday night. It makes us very happy in a way I can‘t describe. All of us also say tehillim every night. It has added something to all of our lives and connected us to each other and to Hashem in a way I could not have expected. I feel better, hopeful and more powerful. There is something inside me I did not have before the pigua.


In February, a wonderful thing happened to me. Zalman Indig, the director of All4Israel, asked if I would see a special plastic surgeon, Dr. Lloyd Hoffman, from New York who was on vacation in Israel with his family. I was afraid to hope. The pain from my scars was so bad that I rarely slept, could not sit and could not concentrate. The doctor examined me and said "I cannot promise you anything. If I can help you, I will call." Shortly after this, Zalman Indig called my home and spoke with me and my mother. He asked if I would like to come to New York for surgery. All4Israel would pay all of my expenses. I could not believe it. I felt like a miracle had happened just for me.


I am still here. I have had one surgery and am waiting for the second. In 6 months, I will return for more. The people I have met have not asked me for anything,not for pictures, help in fundraising or even publicity. They have shown me true Ahavat Yisrael. I feel very special and loved by these strangers who I now think of as family.


I will serve in the IDF. Afterwards, I want to become a physical therapist and work with burn victims. I think I will be able to help them find a way to bear the painful treatments and find strength inside themselves.


Before the pigua, I was happy and optimistic. There must have been a spark of that somewhere inside that refused to die. I know now that I have won. I laugh again and I find joy in my family and friends. I have a strength I did not know I had and know I can accomplish anything.


On July 12, 2005, 5 people died: 2 girls my age, Rachel ben Abu and Nofar Horowitz;

A Ukranian immigrant named Julia Voloshin; a 50 year old grandmother named Anya Lifshitz; and a 21 year old soldier named Moshe Maor Jan who had a pregnant wife. I have known Moshe‘s family for many years. His wife Moriah gave birth to the baby so I don''t think the terrorist beat Moshe either


I know something important. Pain is power, when you use it to find your faith and your strength.

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