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In Efrat, Tears Sing for Maia and Rina Dee

A friend sent me video clips of Efrat residents and others singing while grieving. It’s virtually impossible to watch these scenes and not tear up.
[additional-authors]
April 9, 2023
Courtesy Israel National News

I don’t feel as if I’m in LA today, even though I’m physically here. I feel I’m in Israel, in Efrat, grieving with thousands of others the deaths of Maia and Rina Dee, two sisters murdered in a terrorist shooting attack on Friday, with their mother Lucy fighting for her life.

This is not the first time I’ve grieved from my Diaspora home Israeli victims of terror. Why does this one feel different?

It must be the singing.

A friend sent me video clips of Efrat residents and others singing while grieving. It’s virtually impossible to watch these scenes and not tear up. In one, men of all ages are sitting in a large synagogue and singing in unison a haunting melody. In another, a mixed crowd is standing and singing another haunting melody, this one on the theme of “Ani Ma’amin” (I believe). You can see some of the girls crying while singing.

The first melody has grafted onto my brain and won’t leave me. I’ve been humming it all morning. It’s in my head now as I write.

Maybe the singing from Efrat has such a hold on me because I don’t usually associate singing with grieving. I usually associate it with joy, and grieving with prayer. But I know the power of melodies to touch our souls, whether they’re joyful or sad. It doesn’t surprise me, then, that the haunting melodies from Efrat are not just appropriate to the occasion, they intensify it.

I also know that singing demands more from us, which makes it harder to stay composed. When we recite the Kaddish, or pray, or offer words of condolences, we’re more in control. When we sing, we’re emotionally more vulnerable, so it’s easier to break down and cry.

And singing in unison connects us to one another in a visceral, immediate way.

I’m not singing and grieving with my Jewish brethren in Efrat right now, but I feel the connection. In honor of Maia and Rina Dee, and praying for their mother’s recovery, I sit here 7,500 miles away, as my Jewish tears sing with the tears of Efrat.

Update: Lucy (Leah) Dee, who was critically wounded in the terror attack that claimed the lives of her two daughters, Maia and Rina Dee on Friday, has passed away from her injuries, Hadassah-University Medical Center reported on Monday afternoon.

 

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