Hallel’s Garden Playground Project
On Wednesday, June 29th, Hallel and her family traveled to Jerusalem for her dance performance. That night her parents, Rina and Avichai Ariel, kissed Hallel goodnight and told her that she could sleep in the next morning. Hallel and her father were planning on filling bottles of wine that morning. Early the next morning, Thursday, June 30th, Hallel’s father peeked into the bedroom she shared with her two younger sisters to wake the younger girls up for school.
Here’s What Happened
At approximately 8:30 that same morning, an arab terrorist breached the security fence of her Kiryat Arba (Hebron) community setting off alarms. The civilian quick reaction force sprung to action searching house to house for the terrorist infiltrator.
The neighborhood was on lock-down. When the team arrived at Ariel’s home, they discovered Hallel in her blood soaked bed with multiple stab wounds. The terrorist from a neighboring arab village climbed through her window, murdered her and engaged the reaction force. He was shot and killed immediately.
A Nation Mourns
By that afternoon, hundreds of mourners, including government officials, had flooded into the Ariel family’s neighborhood for Hallel’s funeral and to take part in the procession to the Kiryat Arba graveyard.
Hallel’s mother Rina spoke at the funeral, while standing over her daughter’s shrouded body:
“G-d, Father, how do you give a eulogy for a thirteen year old girl…for thirteen years you gave her to me for safekeeping, and now I give her back to you.” Rina continued, “I want to address the mother of the terrorist who did this. I teach my children to love, you’ve educated yours to hate. G-d, take her, she’s yours now I’ve finished my part.”
Rina’s final words to her precious daughter before the procession began,
“Halleli, good bye, sweetie. Have one last hug from mom.”
A Mom’s Vision
Rina told me that there has been a huge outpouring of support and kindness since the murder of her daughter. However, Rina wanted to build something. She wanted the children of her community to benefit from the goodness that can spring from this tragedy. Rina explained to me that the elementary school where Hallel attended has no playground for the 191 children. They have an open yard of dirt – no swings, no slides, no monkey bars…nothing. Hallel’s 8 year old sister, Shira (pictured above), attends the same school, and Hallel’s youngest 4 year old sister will be attending next year when she goes into kindergarten. Rina wants to name the playground “Hallel’s Garden.”
“We work and we cry. The pain is immense and indescribable. It doesn’t weaken or fade. But I’ve chosen to focus on doing.”
I told Rina that MBKI has already built five playgrounds in the Jordan Valley and the Judean village of Pnei Kedem over the past two years and we will be honored to help.
Tikkun Olam is a Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness to repair the world. We have an opportunity to honor the memory of Hallel, comfort her family and community and build a playground for 191 children at Hallel’s elementary school. Please take a moment to review My Brother’s Keeper International’s plan below.
Project Name: Hallel’s Garden
Project Sponsor: My Brother’s Keeper International
Project Leader: Dov ben Zion Gelman
Project Members: Rina and Amichai Ariel, Lyndee Gelman, Dov Zwerling, Eve Harrow, Achiya Yanai and Shani Abrams Simkovitz
Project Description: Accommodate and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional growth of school age children in Kiryat Arba, Israel who have experienced terror related trauma by building a recreational area and playground.
Project Location: Alonei Mamra Elementary School for Girls, Kiryat Arba (Hebron), Israel
Playground Size: 140 sq. meter
Estimated Project Cost: $50,000