The view from my veranda

Kinneret Chaya 21

March 30th will be Kinneret Chayas 21st birthday. I find it hard to imagine that it is 21 years since that awful day and the miracles that followed it. I often feel that Kinneret Chaya represents Israel, perhaps the Jewish people. I thought of writing again but then I re-read what I wrote 7 years ago and decided that it expressed everything I felt and more. So here it is –

There are moments in time which are burned deeply into my memory; times of great loss alongside times of great joy, somehow interlinked. Of all those experiences there is one which stands out, alone in its enormity – the night of March 30th 2002.
Driving back from a visit to Herzliya our friend Orly called

“Where are you?” – the question we all asked of each other when there had been a pigu’a – a terror attack.

“Where was it?” I asked “Where was the pigu’a?”

She went very quiet and her voice broke as she said “In a coffee shop in Tel Aviv and Sheila, Yaffa and Moishes daughter Kinneret was seriously injured, we don’t know if she will survive”

The moment we got home I called Yaffa at the hospital who told us the terrible news that Kinneret was burned over 80% of her body and the doctors gave her a minimal chance of survival let alone recovery. That night Zvi’s son Amiad took an amulet from a Jerusalem Rabbanit to place under Kinneret’s pillow. A Rabbi came to the hospital and as he blessed her he asked the family to change her name from Kinneret to Kinneret Chaya – Kinneret Lives; and so began an incredibly tough, miraculous journey toward the phenomenal woman, mother and wife that is Kinneret Chaya Boosany Twig today.

Kinneret was a slightly aloof, exceptionally beautiful young woman who was searching out her place in the world. When she came back from her travels to the Far East she did a bit of modeling and studied alternative medicine, financing the studies working as a waitress, or “barmanit” in a Tel Aviv café called “My Coffee Shop”. The coffee shop did not have a guard, as so many places in Tel Aviv at that time, and no-one suspected the young man who walked in and asked for a cup of coffee. Kinneret walked behind the bar/counter to prepare the coffee when he blew himself up. Nearly 40 people were injured that night and Kinneret was one. As he detonated the explosive belt on his body, the inferno caught the alcoholic drinks behind the bar which burst into an inferno and her frail young body went up in flames. The firemen put out the flames and the paramedics began to clear the injured. Itzik Cohav, a volunteer paramedic, sensed something was missing, he returned to check the site and suddenly, under the overturned bar he saw a small hand. Itzik moved the bar with supernatural strength and found a tiny burned body underneath. To his amazement, Kinneret spoke to him. Itzik carried her to the ambulance and travelled to Ichilov Hospital with her, never leaving her side. It was Itzik who called Kinnerets family.

Days, weeks and months Kinneret Chaya remained in an induced coma, 88 days to be precise. I kept a full diary of all visits and events. The Boosany family rallied round and aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings kept the family going at the hospital, bringing food and love. Zvi and I were honoured to join the family but I can never forget the first time Kinneret Chayas mother Yaffa took me aside and asked me if I wanted to go in to the sterile room and see Kinneret Chaya – who was beginning to come out of the coma. I was terrified but desperate to see this amazing child/woman. As I walked down the corridor in the Sheba Burns Unit I could see a tiny body on a sea of green air cushions atop an improbably high bed. Barely recognizable as a human being, she suddenly turned toward me and smiled a smile that defeats description, I was hooked. I was in love with Kinneret Chaya.

From that day on my diary of a terror survivor was not about the family, nor about my feelings, it became essential that the world know about this amazing woman who has defeated death and even through her pain was able to smile. I recorded her first mouthful of food – gosh I can still see the absolute joy on her face as her Mum peeled a grape and fed her half, chewed carefully as if it were the elixir of life – which it was. One day I came in to the ward and found Kinneret Chaya on her feet “10 steps, I walked 10 steps” she said as she hung on to the arm of her sister Anat. The entire family played its part in Kinneret Chayas recovery. Yaffa, who devotedly slept beside Kinneret Chaya, Moshe who gave love and support, Anat whose determination drove KC on, and Nitzan whose quiet practical help kept everyone sane – and Kinneret Chayas former boyfriend Tal (now Shlom Zalman who ives as a Haredi man) who slept beside her and made her feel as a loved woman. You all helped too, every one of you who sent her a letter, gave her a gift, expressed love to her, but there is one man who helped her put her thoughts into perspective.

Pastor Mike Evans came to visit Kinneret Chaya with us at her parents home, on her first weekend visit from rehab. Zvi, Martin, Yaffa, Moshe and Yaffas sister sister looked on as Mike Evans and his friend Mike Atkins gently asked permission from this traditionally Jewish household to pray for Kinneret Chayas recovery. Very moved the family gave permission and the two Mikes prayed. At the end Mike Evans looked into Kinneret Chayas eyes and said

Kinneret Chaya, there are two ways to look at everything. To move forward you must turn your scars into stars and bitter into better.”

We all gasped and a look of understanding washed over Kinneret Chayas face.

Kinneret Chaya has turned her scars into stars. After many painful operations, much at the hand of surgeons who gave their skill and their hearts to this amazing young woman, Kinneret Chaya is a beautiful woman. Her scars are irrelevant. Kinneret Chaya met the love of her life Amir, seeing him across the synagogue they both attended. Their marriage was joyous and now, as a religious Jewish woman, miracles happened, Kinneret Chaya Boosany Twig is the doting mother of Odaya (thanks to G-d) a beautiful little girl.

I just spoke Kinneret Chayas mother, Yaffa to wish her Mazal Tov on Kinneret Chayas rebirthday. Yaffa said that Kinneret Chaya celebrates on the Hebrew anniversary the 17th of Nissan. KC is out with her husband Amir doing her Pesach shopping. Yaffa proudly told me that Kinneret Chaya is the most amazing mother, with little Odaya on her hip most of the day. She has a warm and welcoming home, a good husband, a beautiful child and life is good.

Whoever claimed that miracles don’t happen should look to Kinneret Chaya Boosany Twig who made her own miracles with the support of her incredible family and all of us who love her. I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I watched the emergence of a glorious flower called Kinneret Chaya Boosany Twig.

The greatest miracle is that Kinneret Chaya now has four of the most beautiful children imaginable, is a deeply religious woman and cannot stop smiling because life is so amazing.

1 Comment

  1. […] Thursday the 30th of March. 21 years ago, in the evening, we were driving back from Herzliya when we received a phone call from Orly. “Something terrible has happened. Kinneret was in a terror attack in Tel Aviv and she is in critical condition in hospital, they don’t give her much chance of survival” Kinneret was burned on 85 percent of her body and I managed to record every moment of her recovery. 21 years later and Kinneret Chaya is a married lady with four children, you see, miracles do happen. […]