Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin, the young couple murdered Thursday night in front of their children by Arab terrorists near Itamar in Samaria, were laid to rest on Friday morning.
Thousands of people attended the ceremony, which began at 11 a.m. at Har Hamenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem, located near the western entrance to the capital city.
The family has requested from the media not to live-broadcast the ceremony and to respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.
President Reuven Rivlin, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi MK Eli Ben-Dahan, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, MK Tzipi Livni, and several additional ministers and MKs were spotted at the ceremony, as well as former Shas MK and Yachad head Eli Yishai.
The young couple, residents of Neria in Samaria, was murdered in front of the eyes of their four children, aged four months, four years, 7 and 9, who were in the car at the time. The young parents were in their thirties.
The “armed wing” of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Rabbi Eitam’s parents, who made aliyah from America, are Rabbanit Chana Henkin, founder of the Nishmat Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies for Women in Jerusalem and Rabbi Yehuda Henkin, known posek (halakhic decisor) and author of the four volume set of responsa, Bnai Banim.
Torah and togetherness
Rabbanit Henkin eulogized her son Friday, noting that he had been a wellspring of support and nachas, joy and fulfillment, for her and the Rabbi.
“We had a special language between us of Torah and Halakha [Jewish law – ed.],” the Rabbanit stated. “You continued in the Torah ways of your father and grandfather, with talent, with integrity; you were a man of Torah in all things.”
“You wrote a book on Jewish law in your twenties; people did not believe you were so young,” she continued.
Rivlin also eulogized the couple.
“We don’t give eulogies on Chol HaMoed [intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot – ed.], but you cannot stand silent in the face of a father and mother, who were well-loved, who were murdered at the hands of a murderous savage and robbed their children of their parents,” Rivlin began.
“Like many of the people of Israel, I learned about your personality too late,” he continued. “This morning I was shown some of the Torah works the Rabbi wrote during the short years of his life. What we can we say? That we lost a brave and original scholar? That we lost a huge rabbi, who hails from a family of giants, a man of letters who was also a man of action – or that we simply lost a loving father?”
Rivlin noted that Naama wrote him personally after the murder of 25 year-old Danny Gonen in June.
“I told you that the responsibility for the security of all the [Judea-Samaria] residents is in our hands, and that I would visit every home whose light had been extinguished [i.e. from terror – ed.],” Rivlin stated. “I never thought I would then be coming to visit your home.”
Rivlin vowed not only to embrace the bereaved Henkin children, but also to keep a principle of togetherness from the Mishna the Henkins proudly posted on their Sukkah – “They will be connected unto one union, and will atone for one another.” (Hebrew: יקושרו כולם, אגודה אחת, והן מכפרין, אלו על אלו).
“Naama, I promise you that the embrace we see today from the whole nation will not stop,” he said. “This was your will, and so it will be actualized – this is the togetherness in which you invested.”
Rivlin: we will not stop building
The President then addressed the Jews of Judea-Samaria.
“Brothers and sisters, family members, residents of Neriah, the Peduel community, and the settlements as a whole,” Rivlin stated. “We are facing a cruel wave of terror, and you stand at the forefront of the campaign, paying an unbearable price.”
“Since we returned to our country and we set foot again in our land, we have dealt with attacks which have not stopped and never ceased,” he continued. “Terrorism has accompanied us from 1948 to 2015.”
“We have never built because of terrorism, and we have never stopped building because of terrorism,” he added. “Terrorism has never hit our foundations, and never undermined our foothold in this country.
This is true now and will be in the future.”
“We will fight terrorism without fear, without pity, and without cowardice,” he vowed. “We will all fight against it and win.”
“We used to say, ‘through the building of Zion we will be consoled.’ It’s difficult today to speak about comfort, but there is a close connection to us building [on our land] and comfort.”
“During this painful moment we embrace you all, we embrace the community and the family,” he concluded.
Rivlin’s words were followed by an emotional recitation of the Kaddish prayer by the Henkins’ nine year-old son, Matan.
Thousands in the crowd broke into tears upon watching the young boy pray.
Eulogies will continue at the burial site. Thousands of mourners are accompanying the funeral procession.
“He was full of knowledge,” Rabbi Eitam’s brother Yagil eulogized. ”The Torah world lost one of the greatest rabbis of the next generation. The academic world lost a great scholar. I lost a brother.”