Purim on the Heels of a Leviya
By, Moshe Burt
Beit Shemesh, March, 2002.
I originally intended to write only about the Leviya of Valerie
Ahmir, the Russian Beit Shemesh resident who was brutally attacked by drive-by
terrorists late last Friday afternoon
as he was returning home from work just before Shabbat.
But Purim followed quickly
on the heels of this Leviya.
The Ahmir Leviya carried over from Erev Shabbat to Ta'anit Esther
because the family was awaiting the arrival of one of the sons in order to make
the Leviya. And so, we started a
new week with yet another Jewish death.
Ahmir was shot to death in his car as he traveled home to Beit
Shemesh from his job in Jerusalem late on Friday afternoon.
He was a Doctor, by training, in Russia. When he made Aliya, I'm told that he took a Security Job
which he felt was not adequate and switched to a more risky Security position in
Ahmir was driving on the Atarot-Givat Ze'ev Road near Givat Ze'ev,
on his way home, when he was
attacked. An auto passed Ahmir's
vehicle and the occupants, drive-by terrorists, sprayed bullets at him and
killed him. The assailants then
escaped, speeding in the direction of Kfar Beitunia, an Arab town.
When Ahmir was shot, he lost control of his Subaru and the car
kareemed into a highway barrier. A
military medic at the scene checked Ahmir and pronounced
The Leviya took place at 1 PM on Monday, Ta'anit Esther and was
attended by Beit Shemesh Mayor Daniel Vaknin, a delegation representing the city
administration, representatives of the
Beit Shemesh Office of Absorption, Sarah Sharansky, wife of Minister of Housing
Natan Sharansky, and many Beit Shemesh/Ramat Beit Shemesh residents -- Russians,
Anglos and Native-born Israelis.
After the leviya ended, I was able to speak briefly with Beit
Shemesh Mayor Vaknin.
I expressed that it was good that he and the city delegation attended the
Leviya and that the Russian members of the Community need to feel as if
they belong. Fresh in my mind was
the episode of the Russian teenagers who were slaughtered in a Tel Aviv Disco
and the apparent reluctant Israeli recognition of their loss at that time.
I asked a question of the Mayor about what he and city officials
are doing about all of the illegal Arabs working in Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit
Shemesh. His answer was less
than satisfactory, although he was probably totally unprepared to deal with a
citizen's "off-the-cuff" question about Arab Workers and the Security
of Beit Shemesh/Ramat Beit Shemesh residents.
The Mayor's response was "Don't be afraid."
Mayor Vaknin then stated that he and the Beit Shemesh Police Chief were
working on the problem. A woman in
the car with the Mayor told me, out of the window, that they are doing something
but did not say what.
I did get to speak very briefly with the widow.
I asked her how long ago they had made
Aliyah and she responded that they came 12 years ago.
I was then fortunate enough to catch a "tremp" (ride)
back to Ramat Beit Shemesh.
At 6 PM, I walked over the hill to the other side of Dolev and down
the steps to Rechov Shimshon for Ma'ariv and Megillah reading at the Carlebach
Shul, Ahavat B'Simcha. During
Megillah reading, I was sitting next to a member of Hazallah.
He told me that during the Megillah reading, his beeper went off.
He showed me a brief message which stated that at least 10 people were
injured in a Neve Yaakov Apartment Building when two terrorists opened fire on
them while they were waiting for the #25 bus to make it's last stop in Neve
After Shul, I returned to a friend's home to break the fast. Then I returned home to change into a costume for a festive Purim Party which began at 10PM and ended close to 1AM. On Purim day and on Shushan Purim, the Purim spirit of partying until we couldn't distinguish Mordechai from Haman provided an all too brief interlude where we could put off to a corner our feelings about the losses we are suffering and about our National Government's equivocal and lackadaisical performance in defending Eretz Yisrael and Bn'ai Yisrael and not fighting a War like a War.
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