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Darkness descends on last night of Chanukah, as terror attack hits home




“Imagine getting that call,” said Chaim Silverstein, the father of Shira Ish-Ran, 21, who was seriously injured in Sunday’s drive-by shooting in the West Bank.

A group of terrorists in a passing car opened fire at Israeli civilians waiting at a bus stop outside the settlement of Ofra, north of Jerusalem, injuring seven people. Ish-Ran’s husband, Amichai, who was shot three times in his leg, managed to call his father-in-law and tell him to rush to the hospital.

In a lifesaving bid, doctors were forced to perform an emergency C-Section on Ish-Ran, who was 30 weeks pregnant, and delivered her baby boy. The baby was immediately transferred to the ward for premature babies at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Centre. Initially said to be stable, his condition continued to deteriorate no matter how hard doctors tried to save his life. On Wednesday early evening the public were notified that baby Amiad Yisrael died.

Sobbing at the baby’s funeral on Wednesday night, Silberstein said his grandson stayed alive until “his wounded parents could meet him, hug him, kiss him and say goodbye”.

This week, Silberstein described to the SA Jewish Report the gut-wrenching hours and days following the attack which has rocked the family’s world, and sent shock waves through Israeli society.

“It was a nightmare come true,” recalled Ish-Ran’s mother, Liora, describing how it had been an ordinary Sunday evening at home when her husband told her something was terribly wrong. He had received a call from his son-in-law, Amichai, speaking from an ambulance informing him that there had been a terrorist attack.

She just remembers grabbing her telephone and her siddur (prayer book), and dashing out of the house.

On the way to the hospital, the frantic couple passed police cars heading to the scene of the attack unaware of the details of what had happened moments earlier, describing it all as “surreal”. Shira and Amichai had been married for only nine months. They were at the Ofra bus stop as part of their journey from Jerusalem to their home in Elon Moreh.

Silberstein said he and his wife literally prayed for a miracle as a team of doctors performed the lifesaving operation for more than five hours on their daughter, who was shot in her lower abdomen. Her life was in danger throughout the operation, he said.

Silberstein told the SA Jewish Report that “miraculously, the bullet missed Shira’s major organs”, and she survived the surgery.

On Monday, doctors lowered her sedation, allowing her to wake up. As soon as she opened her eyes, she asked for her mom.

A tearful Liora told The Jerusalem Post that “she held my hand and squeezed it”.

Chaim told  the SA Jewish Report late on Tuesday night, shortly after doctors removed tubes and pipes from Ish-Ran’s mouth, that Shira’s condition was improving all the time.

“She is beginning to talk. She weakly told my wife and I that we needed to go home and sleep.”

He said it was “miraculous” that his son in law was only moderately injured after being shot several times.

According to Silberstein, his son-in-law’s face “lit up” when he saw his young bride for the first time earlier that day since the incident.

He said Amichai had been offering Shira so much support on his crutches and in his wheelchair and that it was wonderful to see them together after such a trauma, but news of their firstborn’s death was soon to crush their spirit.

Silberstein, 58, who grew up in Yeoville and attended King David Linksfield High School, made aliyah almost 40 years ago as a 19-year-old baal teshuva (secular Jew returning to religious Judaism).

In Israel, he was introduced to his wife, Liora, 49, (nee Dubb), who grew up in Port Elizabeth. The couple have seven children, including two sets of twins. Shira, their oldest, has a twin brother Ariel. They were both married within three weeks of each other only nine months ago, said Silberstein.

The Silbersteins visited Johannesburg in August with three of their daughters to see his sister, who lives in Gallo Manor, Sandton, and show the girls where he grew up. “I took them on a tiyul shoresh [roots tour],” he said.

One of the places Silberstein arranged to visit was King David Linksfield, where they met his headmaster, Elliot Wolf.

“He took us around the school, and spent about 45 minutes with us,” said Silberstein.

He had met Wolf earlier this year in May, at the 40-year King David Linksfield matric class of 1977 reunion in New York, attended by about 65 Davidians from around the world.

The terror attack has captured the hearts of South African Jewry, who have taken to social media since the shooting.

South African olah Dalya Abadi posted on Facebook, “Breaks my heart to see this horrific act of cowardice terror happening to my incredible madricha (counsellor) Shira, who guided me during my gap year last year. Shira is truly one of the most amazing girls I’ve met. She is so super bubbly, wise, and truly treats everyone with such authentic kindness.”

Abadi, who attended the couple’s wedding, told the SA Jewish Report from Israel that Ish-Ran “went above and beyond” as a counsellor. Even though she was born in Israel, she is “so South African in her ways, including her accent and her incredible warmth”. She described her as intensely private, and found it strange to see her all over the news, including videos of her recent wedding.

The terrorists responsible for the attack fled the scene immediately after the shooting, and remain at large. The military’s search for the perpetrators of the attack entered its fourth day on Wednesday, with troops setting up roadblocks and sweeping nearby Palestinian villages.

Silberstein is no stranger to news and controversy. He is the founder and President of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech ( and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund, organisations which aim to keep Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. They inform public opinion and policy makers about the importance of keeping the city united, and fostering Jewish population growth. Silberstein also holds regular guided geopolitical tours of Jerusalem and its borders.

A personal friend of Silberstein, Michael Freund, who is the Chairman of Shavei Israel (an Israeli-based international Jewish outreach organisation) told the SA Jewish Report, “The Silbersteins are a warm and loving family, filled with Jewish and Zionist commitment. A former senior advisor to Israel’s Tourism Minister, Chaim has devoted himself to strengthening Jewish life throughout all parts of Jerusalem. He tirelessly takes members of Knesset, foreign dignitaries, and groups on informative tours of the city through his organisation,

“Together with his wife, the Silbersteins volunteered to serve as an adoptive family for one of the young Chinese Jewish descendants from Kaifeng, China, that Shavei Israel brought on aliyah two years ago. And now they are grappling with a painful and difficult tragedy.”

Silberstein told the SA Jewish Report that his family was truly grateful to the South African community for its prayers. “We believe your prayers have helped, and we send our blessings back.”

The family have also thanked the community and Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein for their multiple heartfelt messages of support, saying, “We are deeply humbled and grateful for the love shown by the South African community.”

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  1. Jack Singer

    Dec 13, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    ‘Please let the United Nations know that Israel is being terrorized by the Palestinians.’

  2. Mymaat

    Dec 19, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    ‘Wow truly humbling story


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