Time doesn’t heal anything

When a terror attack occurs many feel the effects, including people outside the first circle of the directly involved, beyond the relatives and friends, the friends of friends… the ripples spread and it is impossible to remain untouched.

Even when there is no direct involvement, some attacks hurt more than others. Sometimes it’s because of their gruesomeness, sometimes because of the heroism of those involved or those left behind. “It could have been me,” the knowledge that you or a loved one was at the scene of the attack a moment before, that someone else was hurt instead of you, is very disturbing. An attack on someone with very similar traits enhances the feeling as well (“she was the same age as my daughter”). Sometimes the reason a specific attack bothers you more, stays in your memory more than others, is inexplicable. That’s just the way it is.

People who live in other, calmer, countries don’t think of these things.

It’s easier to see terror attacks as statistics or human interest stories that change when the news cycle changes. It’s easier to forget.

When the article about Nava Applebaum came up in my Facebook feed I couldn’t remember if she had been murdered at Café Hillel or Café Moment. I didn’t remember what year it happened. I remembered her smiling image, hugging her father. I remembered the wedding she was supposed to have the next day.

Her father had taken her out to have some special time together before her wedding. Dr. Applebaum, a specialist in emergency medicine, who had saved the lives of so many other victims of terror attacks, was murdered alongside his precious daughter.

These thoughts flooded my mind before I even opened the link to the article.


There was the image I remembered. nava-and-dr-applebaum

The article said the attack occurred 13 years ago. So much time has gone by?

I went to my article archive and looked at the titles to see which was about the Applebaums. I didn’t remember the title but I knew which one it was before I opened it: “Their Wedding Day.”

This is what wrote at the time:

Dear All,

The following is about events in Israel on September 9 2003. Today our hearts are with America’s 9/11 victims.

On September 9, the day of the attacks in Tzrifin and Hillel Café, a total of 15 people were killed and over 80 wounded. [My God]

I woke up in an unexplained panic from an afternoon nap. I turned on the tv and saw that just a few minutes ago a suicide bomber had blown himself up at a bus stop. Panic explained.

Later on in the day another suicide bomber blew himself up in Café Hillel killing 7, among them Nava and Dr Appelbaum.

Both bombers were members of Hamas from the village of Rantis in the West Bank. Both studied together at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah. Both had been released from Israeli prison 6 months ago as a “confidence building gesture” to the ‘Palestinians’. [Will we ever learn that the confidence we build with these gestures is the confidence that the path of terrorism is helping them attain their goals?!]

It was their wedding day.

It was love at first sight. They met when they were 16 and 17 years old and they were together ever since. The more time they spent together the happier they were. Everyone knew they were going to get married. Chanan bought an apartment and furnished it for his wife to be. He even thought to put plants in it, writing a note and placing it in the pot for his beloved Nava to find. The note said: “This plant is like you. It grows when it’s watered and becomes more beautiful with each passing day”. Chanan also bought special jewelry to give Nava on their wedding day.

Nava never saw the note, she never got the jewelry and she didn’t get married. Chanan never got to watch his bride walk down the aisle towards him, surrounded by their friends and family.

Friends and family came, a sea of people. They parted to create an aisle for Chanan and Nava’s family to walk down but Chanan couldn’t do it. He had to be supported, half carried to the grave of his beloved.

Instead of getting married Chanan found himself attending a double funeral, that of his 20 year old wife-to-be and her father, Dr. David Appelbaum an expert in emergency medicine. Both had been killed in a terrorist attack the night before.  

Chanan was told that Dr. Appelbaum died first. When he was told about Nava he collapsed on the spot. After he revived he told relatives that he could never be married to anyone else. Nava was his soul mate, his other half and without her he would always be half a person. A day later he was still unable to function. He wrote a eulogy to his beloved but was unable to bring himself to read it at her funeral.  

The terrorist who killed Nava and Dr Appelbaum killed something in Chanan too. He also killed the thousands of people Dr Appelbaum would have saved had he continued living, working in emergency medicine. Thousands already owe their lives to Dr Appelbaum. Truly, when you kill one person you kill the world.

It’s interesting to read these words now. On a horrific day in Israel, of all the people hurt, it was Nava’s story that stood out the most to me. The story of the bride-to-be who would never dance on her wedding day, never create the family she dreamed of, her fiancé, heartbroken… that was gut wrenching. The loss of Dr. David Applebaum and, with him, all the people he could have saved in the future, was a disaster on a national scale.

At the same time, for some reason, I was thinking of the effect of 9/11 in America.

So many things have happened since, so many other attacks, new horrors, I haven’t followed up on what happened to the Applebaum family – but I never forgot them.

The article added details I didn’t know and filled in the gaps created by the years that have passed.

It is a relief to know that Chanan married in 2010. I wish him and his new family joy, free from trauma and hardships. Nava and her father are being honored in numerous ways that keep their memories alive and help continue their legacy of positively influencing new lives.

This picture, to me, is the most beautiful tribute. All these sweet girls are either Nava’s nieces or her first cousins’ daughters and they all were named after her. From left to right- Talia Nava Silberman, Nava Tiferet Applebaum, Nava Bat-Ami Applebaum, Nava Shani Maresky, Nava Tehila Kramer, Nava Rachel Abramson, Nava Yehudit Kasnett, Nava Noam Kalker. Credit: Yael Applebaum


“Time heals all wounds” is an empty platitude often thrown out by awkward people who do not know how to comfort the bereaved. Those who have had their loved ones ripped from them in particularly horrible ways probably hear these empty, useless, promises the most often.

Time heals nothing. It’s what you do with that time that makes the difference.

In good times and in tragedy the Applebaum family is a shining example for us all.

When you use your life to bring joy to others nothing can truly break you. Even death cannot kill your memory or legacy when it is used to make the world a better place. This is worth remembering should tragedy hit your family or that of someone you know.

If the Applebaums can do it, you can too.


Read more about Nava, Dr. David Applebaum and what is being done to preserve their legacy here.

3 thoughts on “Time doesn’t heal anything

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