For mother of girl found dead, a tearful pilgrimage
The mother of Dana Bennett, the teenager missing for nearly six years until her body was discovered yesterday, visited the tomb of Rabbi Meir in Tiberias last night. Two weeks ago thousands of worshippers met at the site to mark the annual celebration of the Mishnaic sage's legacy, but yesterday Bennett simply wanted to honor the memory of her daughter.
Nearly six years of uncertainty, desperation and occasional hope came to an end when the teenager's remains were finally discovered.
"I came here for Dana, to give her the respect she deserves. This is a sacred place, and Dana was observant - she kept Shabbat, studied at a religious school and fasted four times a year. She deserves me coming here. Everything I do, I do for Dana," Vicky Bennett said.
"At least I won't keep living in the uncertainty I was living in," she said tearfully. "It isn't comforting, the pain will always remain there, but at least we know what her fate was, and we will have a grave to visit."
Bennett said that during Dana's long absence she continued to cling to hope her daughter was alive. "I didn't lose hope, not for a single day, not even for a single moment. I was full of hope, but last week they told me all the evidence pointed to it being Dana's body that was found."
"I have a son who I have to be strong for. Along the way there have been breakdowns here and there, but I tried to stay strong for his sake, not to break and to keep on living. This time as well, I won't break. I'll remain strong for my son's sake."