Esther – Don’t Ever Forget Her

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If you never heard the name Esther Hurgan, you can be forgiven. Like most of Israel, I never had the honor of meeting Esther. But, after today, if you ever forget her name, the heavens will forever mourn.

What can I tell you about Esther? A woman I never met? Well, the news isn’t really saying much. What we know is that her husband and six children are shocked, distressed, and already deeply in mourning. For now, it is about simply surviving the next few days.

Esther Hurgan

And, we know she was beautiful, that she loved to run in the beauty of the forest near her home. And we know that yesterday, after going for a run, she didn’t return. They say she was a kind woman and we know that just three months ago, her youngest child celebrated his bar mitzvah. Six children and according to Jewish tradition, she escorted them into adulthood before they murdered her. No, 13-years-old isn’t really an adult but it’s a milestone she saw and shared with him and someday, hopefully, he’ll cherish that.

And we know they murdered her in the beautiful and peaceful forest. The details of what was done to her have been called barbaric; her murderers are being called savages. “A full life of wonderful works – of home and family, of creativity and care – has been cut short by a beast in human guise,” said the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, when he heard about the murder.

Today, what can we do when a woman is butchered not far from her home? Her children mourn, her husband stands alone facing a job meant for two? What will he do? So let me tell you about Israel, about my country and what will happen in the coming hours. Truthfully, it may not help. Perhaps nothing will. But allow me to tell you anyway.

In these hours, even last night after they found her body, our sons and daughters began hunting. They will find the savages who murdered Esther. They will. Perhaps, it will take hours. Maybe, it will take days. Sometimes, it takes weeks. Occasionally, years pass before security forces find them. But justice is and justice will be. Our justice, and God’s. But the army will find them, these beasts who appear as men; those men who think their hatred gave them some right to take Esther from her family.

And beyond the justice that comes, there will be comfort. Even now, family and friends surround Benyamin, her husband. From all over Israel, people come to stand beside them. They will bring food until the refrigerator and counters overflow. In the yard, people will fill the chairs, even in these corona times. For the family, it will be a blur; noise and commotion that bashes through the reality of the pain until it soothes them.

Beyond all logic, people will speak and they will listen. The pain will transform into an ache that will last forever. Her name is alive, will always be alive. Out of nowhere, friends and family will bring pictures and leave them for Esther’s family. For the next week and more, people will bring pictures of Esther and her family will see her smile, her eyes. Her husband and her children’s will her face before them during the day, and in their dreams at night. And at some point, deep and forever in their hearts, Esther will be.

Never. Never will they forget her. Esther will be there every day, though at the moment, they don’t understand this. But Esther will be at every wedding, and as the grandchildren she will never know are born, she’ll be there. They will never forget her.

But what is astounding and what will touch the hearts of this family some day when their broken hearts can feel beyond their pain, is that Esther Hurgan now belongs to all of us. Israel won’t ever forget her. There are many names. Esther is now one of them.

Long after our sons erase the names and faces of the terrorists from this life, Esther will forever be the mother who went out running and didn’t return. The stunning woman with her arms spread wide and her face forever smiling.

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