20 years later: Remembering the friend I lost

May 11, 2016  

David Boim was just 17 when he was gunned down in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists near the Jewish town of Bet El, next to Ramallah.

Today, 20 years later, I spoke to his mother Joyce, who since then has been a tireless advocate for Israeli terror victims’ rights, to find out how she found the strength to carry on.

For me, it is a deeply personal experience; I knew David well, and studied in the same Yeshiva High School as him.

Joyce, who made aliyah from the United States, described the strange feeling of seeing her young son’s friends every year, getting older, while her boy still remains as he was back then: a 17-year-old teenager with a round face, and a big heart.

“David remains 17, he’s still going to be this young kid with the big round face, and now I’m going to see his friends with their beards, graying, balding – and he remains 17.”

Returning to Bet El for Memorial Day is a deeply emotional experience for her, one which doesn’t lessen as the years go by.

“You go to Bet El… when I come there, I see him running down the steps.

“When he was in the 11th grade is was a tough year for him, and every other week, the Shabbat he was in yeshiva, I would go that week to visit him.”

The fact that even two decades later his friends still hold a moving remembrance ceremony for him is “heartwarming, and eases the pain a bit for us,” she says.

Since experiencing her earth-shattering loss, Joyce took up advocating for Israeli victims of terror, including by lobbying and campaigning for legal action against Palestinian terrorist groups. She has also been an ardent and active opponent of prisoner exchanges or releases by Israeli governments.

Her one source of consolation, she says, is that unlike many other Israelis whose friends and relatives were murdered by terrorists, she doesn’t have to live with the dread of Israel one day releasing her son’s murderers. One of the terrorists blew himself up in a triple suicide bombing in Jerusalem, while the other was eliminated by Israeli security forces.

“I am relaxed, because I don’t have to worry about any prison exchange, because both of the murderers of David are not here any more.

“It doesn’t warm my heart, but at least I know that I don’t have to worry that he’s going to be let out and be marching around.”

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