She went to Israel to have child in a ‘peaceful’ environment, recalls a shaken Chabad House

FP

Six months ago, when four-year-old Yousef, the eldest child of Mira and Schilach Rabbi Schumel Schraf, left Chabad House in Delhi's Paharganj area for Israel, he drew a caricature of a man with a hat, three lines marking the contours of his face and his moustache half done in black ink on a piece of paper. Perhaps he would have completed it on his return to India two weeks from now. The room he and his two younger siblings left behind is intact — the cartoons on the doors, the half-folded clothes, a rattle, a bib in the wooden crib.

Yousef, his parents and his two siblings — Chana (2) and Geoulah (9 months) — left in a hurry that day; their visas were expiring soon. The couple went to Israel as Schmuel was on his way to a global conference of rabbis in New York. It was on Mira's insistence that they left for Israel since she wanted to be in a more "peaceful" environment as she was expecting her fourth child. Before leaving, her last words to the acting Rabbi Akiva and his wife Chaya were "spread happiness, help all".

Little did anybody know that would be Mira's last visit to India. She was among the three Israelis killed in a militant rocket attack Thursday as the conflict over Gaza escalated. Hamas militants fired rockets on the small southern town of Khiriyat Malachi and blew up the top floor of a four-storey apartment, killing three, including Mira, 27. Schmuel, 30, and Yousef suffered "medium injuries".

"The incident has come as a shock to all of us," said Rimon Ezra, the sponsor of the Paharganj Chabad House, who knew Mira well. "Such a peace-loving woman she was. Although frail, she was highly energetic and always ready to reach out to those in need. She was a pioneer in running the establishment along with her husband. We lost two people; Mira and the baby inside her."

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