"Our father our king, avenge our babies who hadn't tasted sin and their blood was spilt like water," lamented the cantor. Some 50 family relatives and friends, following a small board on which lay a tiny body wrapped in a prayer shawl, repeated the words while weeping bitterly.
It was the body of an 11-month old baby, Shmuel Zargari, on his way to be buried in the Etz Ha'haim lot in the Givat Shaul cemetery. The mother Nava, the father Ya'akov and Shmuel's two sisters did not attend the funeral. They were badly injured in the suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem on Tuesday, which killed Shmuel.
A few hours later, another toddler named Shmuel, who was five months old, was also buried. Unlike Shmuel Zargari, who was killed in his family's home town, Shmuel Taubenfeld came to Jerusalem from New York with his mother Goldie, 43, his father Moshe and his sister Bat Sheva, 15. Bat Sheva was injured lightly in the bombing. Her mother and younger brother were killed, and buried together in Jerusalem.
In Netanya, Mordechai Shalom Reinitz, 49, and his nine-year-old son Yisaschar Dov were buried side-by-side. Like the Taubenfelds, the Reinitz family came to Jerusalem for a vacation. Mordechai, his wife Haya and their 11 children were with their grandparents, Mordechai's parents. On Tuesday Reinitz took Yisaschar Dov and 11-year-old Mendel to the Western Wall, and on their return the bombing occurred. Reinitz and Yisaschar Dov were killed, and Mendel was critically injured.
Ya'akov Zaragari spent the three-week holiday from his ultra-Orthodox school in the Bucharim quarter with his wife Nava and their six children. They spent the Sabbath in Safed and on their way north visited tzadiks' tombs in the Galilee.
Ya'akov's relatives say he was "a noble, righteous man whose whole life was Torah, a humble man who never leaves the yeshiva or home." But on Tuesday he and Nava went to pray at the Western Wall, taking their five small children - Michael, who will celebrate his bar mitzvah in two weeks, Ester, 8, Nethanel, 7, Abigail, 3, and 11-month-old Shmuel. Moshe, the elder 15-year-old son, stayed at home. Nava told her relatives yesterday that she had prayed for a seventh baby.
On bus line 2, on the way home to the Bucharim quarter, Nethanel and Michael sat behind the driver. Ya'akov and Nava found four free seats inside the bus, for them and their two daughters. Nava held Shmuel the baby in her arms. Mordechai Naki, Nava's brother, heard from his sister that when a young, pregnant woman entered the bus "Ya'akov asked his two girls to give her their seats." The two did so and sat on their father's lap.
But the Zargari's trip home was cut short on Shmuel Hanavi street. Shmuel the baby, in his mother's bosom, suffered deadly injuries. Ya'akov, Nava and the two girls were critically injured. The unknown woman who sat in the seat the two girls had vacated was killed. She was Lilach Karadi, 22, who was to give birth in a month. In the front of the bus, Michael, 13, was lightly injured from shrapnel in his hand, and Nethanel, who sat beside him, was unhurt. Bypassers took him home, to his elder brother.
The other children and their parents were evacuated to three different hospitals, and their relatives looked for them for many hours. Yesterday morning after locating them, Ester and Abigail were transferred to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, where their parents are hospitalized. The father, Ya'akov, is in critical condition, unconscious and on life support machines. He does not know he has lost his baby son. Yesterday evening the hospital reported that Nava, 30, is recovering from surgery and her condition continues to be moderate to critical. Ester, 8, is in the children's intensive care unit with severe lung injuries and burns. Three-year-old Abigail is in moderate condition and is also suffering from burns. Now the Zargari and Naki families are rushing from one hospital to another, and to the grandparents' home in Gilo, where they are sitting shiva for Shmuel.
Yesterday morning, when Nava's condition improved slightly, her brothers entered her room in Hadassah Ein Kerem and gave her the awful news: Shmuel the baby was dead and would be buried in a few hours. She broke down and plunged into silence, her brother Avraham Naki says. "I wanted to shake her, to provoke her," he says. "I asked her if she knew today the law slashing child allowances came into effect. She said `Yes, that's why I went to the Western Wall yesterday, to pray for more children in spite of the law.' I told her: Pharaoh issued decrees on the males; here they issue decrees on the males and females."
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