I don’t know if I can share this story. It involves an innocent person, a person I just met, but he was introduced to me for a reason, so I will share the story for the same reason that his identity was revealed to me, and to others.
I finished my week and a half in Israel, studying at the Shalom Hartman Institute. It was, as usual, a magical time and I concluded my week with some sparring at the Jerusalem Boxing Gym, my home away from home. I was greeted warmly by the Coach, Gershon, who remembered me well, and as the 20 or so boxers assembled he asked everyone to please have a seat. Now last year, he did the same thing, and at that time he announced that the gym was to become a bomb shelter for the duration of the war. Last year he required every one to take a shift manning the shelter, and, this year he had another request of the assembled fighters. I was simply not ready for what he had to say. He pointed to a little eight year old boy sitting on the bench with us wearing an old t-shirt. The coach said quietly “Do you know who this boy is? This boy who has been training with us? He is the son of Yigal Amir”. I have heard the expression “my blood froze” but until now, I had never experienced a sensation like it-my blood truly froze. Yigal Amir, for those who may not know, is the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin. Amir is serving a life sentence for the murder of the Prime Minister, and incredibly a few years ago he married a woman and fathered a child with her. This was that child. Why did the coach reveal his identity to us? A filmmaker had made a documentary about Amir and his new family, called “Beyond the Fear”. It was scheduled to be shown at the Jerusalem Film Festival this month. As you can imagine, there was enormous controversy and initially the organizers of the Festival pulled the film. However, it was decided that the famous Jerusalem Cinema, known as the Cinematheque, would show the film just before the Festival was to begin. Since the child was now in this film, the coach was asking that his fighters go see the film, in order to support this little boy. “After all”, said the coach, “for our friend this is just sadness and family tragedy”. The assembled fighters were absolutely silent. Looking around, I was sure I was the only one alive at the time of Rabin’s assassination, and yet these tough, broken-nosed young guys were absolutely silent. Finally, the coach simply said, “Nu, let’s get to work”. The bell rang and we began to move around the ring.
I recalled a verse we studied from the prophets this week, that declared “The sons shall not be punished for the sins of their fathers”. As I watched the little boy move around the ring, I knew that these holy words were true.
The picture of me and the Coach was taken this afternoon.