A US Jewish community has raised tens of thousands of dollars on behalf of the widow a Druze policeman who was killed when he faced off against two terrorists at a Jerusalem synagogue last year.
Rabbi Hershel Billet, from the Young Israel synagogue in Woodmere, New York, presented Rinel Saif with $34,000 in cash at her home in the Galilee town of Yanuh-Jat on Wednesday, the Hebrew new site Walla reported.
Saif, who had marked her 22nd birthday just two days earlier, was moved as Billet pulled an envelope containing the money from his pocket, describing it as a gesture of appreciation from the Jewish people.
“This week it was my birthday, and it was a day of mourning,” she said. “There is no joy, no celebration, there is nothing. Although I am only 22, God knows how much I’ve been through in my short life. The embrace from the Israeli people helps a lot and warms the heart.”
Zidan Saif, 30, was the first officer on the scene of a November 18 attack last year in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof, where two Palestinians from East Jerusalem, armed with a gun and cleavers, had already killed four worshipers. Saif was shot in the head in a gun battle with the terrorists, who were killed when more police arrived. He was evacuated to hospital in critical condition and later died of his wounds.
Billet told Saif, who has an eight-month-old daughter Larin, how the gesture came about.
“We heard about the four families of the deceased, and we also heard about the Druze policeman who gave his life to save others,” he was quoted as saying. “There is a law in the Torah that says we need to help widows and orphans.
Billet explained that 16-year-old Gabriel Greenbaum, from his Young Israel community, thought that something should be done for the Druze policeman’s family too.
“We decided to join his initiative to raise donations, because this connection between the Jewish people and the Druze community, which sacrifices its sons for our state, is very moving,” Billet reportedly said. “We raised $34,000 from the US Jewish community and this favor we want to bestow upon you as a gift in the name of the Jewish people.”
Saif noted that even four months after the attack, she still gets phone calls from people asking how she is doing.
Thousands of people attended Zidan Saif’s funeral, including President Reuven Rivlin, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, and Israel Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, as well as members of the Har Nof Bnei Torah synagogue where the attack took place.