There is rarely much separation between terror victims in Israel and loved ones here in Colorado.
Scan the gory headlines from over there, and you’ll likely find an affected family or close friend living in our midst.
So it is with Dalya Lemkus z”l, 26, who was twice a victim of Arab-on-Jew terror in Israel. In February 2006, after she was one of two people stabbed at the Gush Etzion junction by a terrorist, she vowed to respond by continuing her routines unabated by fear. “Terror won’t control my life,” she vowed.
And it never did.
Tragically, however, terror did end her life on November 10th of this year.
On that fateful day, Dalya, one of six children of South African olim Nachum and Brenda Lemkus, found herself once again only a short distance from the hitch-hiking post where she was first attacked. Dalya was again seeking a ride home to the Tekoa settlement. Only this time, when a Jihadist first ran her over with his vehicle and then completed his evil mission by stabbing her, Dalya did not survive.
Another of Israel’s bright, vibrant and priceless young lives was extinguished.
A Shloshim service for Dalya, marking 30 days since her burial, was held at BMH-BJ in Denver this past Tuesday, organized by Brian and Sarina Lemkus Kopinsky, her uncle and aunt, as well as other members of our community.
The service for Dalya, led by Cantor Joel Lichterman, included recitation of the 26th Psalm, appropriate for both its content and because Dalya will eternally remain a 26 year old.
“I hated the congregation of the evildoers and I did not sit with the wicked,” Psalm 26 reads. “Oh Lord, I love the dwelling of Your house and the place of the residence of Your glory.”
Also participating in the Shloshim service were Rabbi Marc Gitler, Michal Uziyahu, Michael Detwiler, Dr. Karen Jonscher, Rob Allen and the BMH-BJ choir.[Click here to hear Cantor Lichterman and the choir sing the Al Tira prayer – “Have No Fear.”]
It is a tradition for those who gather for the Shloshim to give to charity on behalf of the deceased. Dalya’s family has requested that funds be donated to complete and furnish the Simchat Dalya Hall at Congregation Sukkat David in Tekoa, where Dalya prayed every Shabbat.
To make a tax-deductible donation, visit the Gush Etzion Foundation at: http://www.gush-etzion.org.il/donate_now1.asp. Please be sure to note that your contribution is for “Simchat Dalya.” You can also donate by credit card by phoning 800-705-1626.[Click here to hear Rob Allen explain how and why to donate to Simchat Dalya Hall.]
Dalya, whose Hebrew name was Dalya bat Nachum Z’ev u’Brenda Basha, was murdered at the Alon Shvut junction, just steps away from where three innocent Israeli yeshiva students, Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaar, were abducted in June and subsequently killed. Her murderer, a 30-year-old Arab resident of Hebron, had earlier served a five-year prison sentence for firebombing an IDF patrol.
Hundreds of people gathered at Dalya’s funeral to pay their final respects. Denver’s Brian and Sarina Kopinsky were still in flight, on their way to Israel, when Dalya was interred.
“I want to scream at everyone, at my nation, and mostly at myself: Don’t stop hitchhiking. Don’t stop driving on the roads. Don’t give them the satisfaction, the satisfaction that they managed to stop and prevent us from living our lives,” pleaded Michal Lemkus, Dalya’s sister, speaking at the funeral.
Dalya’s father, Nachum, who drives the Magen David Adom ambulance in Tekoa, also spoke. “He murdered you because you were a Jew living in Israel,” Nachum said. “[The terrorists] will not break our stand, and our commitment to our country.”
Writing about Dalya for The Times of Israel, Sherri Mandell, co-director of the Koby Mandell Foundation, recounted:
“…she had to hitchhike to get to her job working with children in Kiryat Gat [and] she was the main volunteer at Yad Sarah in Tekoa which lends medical equipment like wheelchairs to those who are sick or injured. …She liked to help brides look beautiful by doing their makeup for them before their weddings….”
Only a month earlier, Mandell noted, Dalya was the one who prepared the food for her brother Chaggai’s bar mitzvah.
In just 60 days, the Lemkus family celebrated their son’s simcha, buried their daughter, and remembered her remotely – here in Denver, for a life ended needlessly and much too soon.
May the memory of Dalya Lemkus be for a blessing.
And just a week after Dalya Lemkus (of blessed memory) was murdered, Boulder’s own Jonathan and Shelley Bein and their family faced a similar bereavement, when Shelley’s brother, Rabbi Kalman Levine (may peace be on him) died in the Har Nof massacre. Are we ready to face the truth and name that massacre a pogrom?
Truly, we Jews are all one family. Indeed all kind, peace-loving humans are one big family of Humankind. We grieve together as evil sweeps over our planet.