Yaelle Benisti Gardner is a neighbor of an IFCJ staff member in Israel. Yaelle is a childcare provider who lives in the city of Efrat in the Judean Hills. Her family made aliyah(immigrated to Israel) from New Jersey in 2007.
Today was a day I will never forget. Wednesday is always the day I go to Rami Levi, our grocery store. I left at my usual time and did my usual shopping. With all the terror attacks happening these days, I now take one of my kids with me so they can keep an eye on the parking lot while I put all our purchases in the car.
Today was supposed to be a normal day – but it wasn’t.
I pulled out of the Rami Levi parking lot and noticed a woman carrying many grocery bags crossing the street. All of a sudden I saw a man in a brown coat run toward her, raise his hand, and stab her in the back.
I immediately honked my horn and screamed to my daughter, “It’s happening!” We both started screaming hysterically. As soon as I started honking, the terrorist ran, and I got out of the car and screamed for help.
I ran to the woman who was now on the ground. I told her, “It’s ok. You are going to be ok.” She stood up but I saw that she was weak. As I was I helping her up, all of a sudden I saw soldiers running with their guns drawn, and then the shooting started.
I brought the woman to my car and told her to sit. There was blood all over my hand. People were all over. My daughter, who was hysterical, ran to a nearby bakery and was surrounded by amazing women who wanted to help. My neighbor, who is a doctor, was nearby. He heard me scream and ran to see what was going on.
I needed to go see if my daughter was ok, so I asked my neighbor to stay with the woman while I made my way to the bakery. I was also hysterical at this point, crying and shaking. There were amazing women in the bakery who helped me and my daughter.
Someone called my husband, Marty, and he was immediately by our side. I was questioned by military intelligence, the police, and the army. It felt unreal. I felt like I was in a movie, wondering how this could ever happen to me.
My daughter, who was in trauma, was taken to the hospital with Marty. I was still being held for questioning. The officials told me that the woman who’d been stabbed, Nirit, was ok. She was being taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center. When I was told I could go, my neighbor was kind enough to leave his car in the Rami Levi parking lot and drive me home to the rest of my anxiously waiting family.
After seeing my family, I went to Shaare Zedek to check on my daughter. Thank God she is doing ok. I was also able to meet Nirit's husband, son, and other family members. They told me she was recovering from surgery but doing well. They asked me to tell them the story, and they were so thankful that I was there.
At that moment, I remembered that at the scene of the terror attack, one woman kept telling me I was a hero. I don’t feel like one. The real heroes are the people of Israel and the people who fight to defend and protect us.
When saying goodbye, I left them my number so they could let me know how Nirit was doing. A couple of hours ago I received a call from Nirit. She said she was doing well and kept thanking me over and over. What could I say? “You’re welcome” doesn’t cut it in this situation. I just kept telling her over and over that I was glad she was ok.
All I know is that Hashem (God) puts us exactly where we are supposed to be. This is where I was supposed to be with my daughter. It played out exactly the way it was supposed to. Even though I was scared, traumatized, and freaked out, my faith is as strong as ever. I still love my country and would never change it for anything. I am so grateful for all my family who came at a moment’s notice and for all the friends who were there and offered to help. Thank you, Hashem, for all the greatness around me.