A Fellowship staff member in Israel wrote this reminiscence of Dafna Meir, the mother of six murdered in a terrorist attack two weeks ago:
Dafna Meir, of blessed memory, was murdered two weeks ago beside the front door of her home in Otniel in the Southern Hebron Hills.
I did not know her, but I have a relative who was a close friend of hers and wrote an essay about her that was published in a local newspaper. I read other articles about her, too, and I understood that she was a special and unique person, and I have been thinking about her a lot.
Dafna had a difficult childhood – her father left the family and her mother was not able to raise her for reasons I do not know. She was sent to a dormitory as a child and was adopted at the age of 13 by another family. She then spent her high school years in a kibbutz until she was inducted into the Israel Defense Forces.
Despite the difficult beginning to her life, after Dafna married and had four of her own children, she and her husband Natan decided to welcome two foster children into their home and become their mother and father. And this was in addition to her job as an intensive-care nurse in Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva and as a fertility counselor, and the many other roles that she took upon herself.
I personally was very moved that this young woman, who had such a hard childhood, took two foster children into her own family.
I also read that Dafna studied Arabic and Russian in order to speak to her patients in the hospital in their own languages. She worked in the neurosurgery intensive care unit and many of the patients were comatose and unresponsive. She would sit beside them for hours, speaking to them in their own languages and hoping for a response.
This, too, moved me immensely.
The dormitory Dafna lived in as a child was similar to the welfare dormitories which the IFCJ supports today. She was a dormitory child who grew into a strong and generous adult, a woman who wanted to give back to children who needed a home and a family, like she once did. Her devotion to her patients in the hospital was another perfect example of her desire to heal, help, and give to those who needed her, no matter who they were, where they came from, and what language they spoke.
In the last two weeks, many more stories have been circulating in the printed and online media about Dafna, who lost her life so tragically. Her death was also a huge loss for all of us. To my great sorrow, so often we only hear about such exceptional people when they are killed in terrorist attacks. Dafna Meir, of blessed memory, set an example of giving and compassion that we can all learn from. May she rest in peace.