Grief brings people together. So many people came to see Alena — all her school friends and teachers, and from day one we had a social worker at our side who helped us a lot. I am very grateful and I take my hat off to them all. Such people came — some old ladies just sat with us and talked, and that made us feel better. At first, they just brought us food — a blintz or a pastry — they helped us from the bottoms of their hearts. Some people helped us financially. The most help came from Mikhail Chernoy, of course, and I thank him very much. We put all the money donated to Alena into a special account. We want to find the best plastic surgeon that will give her back her face.
There was a lot of sympathy from regular folks. I was especially touched by the people who had gone through the war, the concentration camps — people who also had lost their children a few years ago. We are still getting letters from all over the world. The state helps, too, the best it can.
At times of peace, Israelis fight one another, but in times of grief, they all pull together. So many people came to my house. I was not in a shape to remember them all. I just wish to thank everybody who was by my side in those days.
People are really sympathetic here. I understand it, because this happens here often. Here, it can happen to anyone. Many came to help us, cab drivers wouldn’t charge us . . . We saw a lot of compassion. Which was the opposite of Ukraine.
In Ukraine, our family and friends were very sympathetic. But the government didn’t care. Not one official came to the funeral.
I didn’t expect any financial support, because everybody is poor over there, but at least morally — we had it from friends, who helped us through our first days. From others, nothing.
From the moment this happened to this day I received much sympathy and compassion from many people whom I had never met. They still visit, call, and write; little children send drawings, and we get invited to charity concerts. SELA and ELUL (a charity organization – Translator’s Note) organized trips to Eilat and the Dead Sea.
Sveta’s friends do everything to help her cope with the loss. They never leave her alone. They call her, take her out, drive her around, because she is afraid to use transportation. I’d say they spoil her. Yulia’s school wants to dedicate a special space to her memory and have another remembrance on the first anniversary of her death. They don’t forget her.
I have seen a lot of sympathy from complete strangers. I never believed that was possible. In Russia, they would have forgotten us a day after the funeral. Only the closest relatives would have come to the Ninth-Day remembrance. Here everything was different.
I met very nice people, and we became very close after the explosion. We really understand one another. We cry and laugh together. Once there were seven of us crying together. Both those who were in the explosion and friends of the victims — just a lot of good people.
As for state help — everybody who was in the hospital got gifts of Diskmen and cell phones, and I didn’t, because I left earlier for the funerals. It’s a trifle, but it’s still upsetting. In general, they forgot about me completely. They don’t think I have been hurt enough: just a bolt in my leg, and loss of hearing in one ear. I don’t need their money; I need my health. But if you think logically, why did all the wounded get three checks each, and I got only one? I’m as much of a victim as they are.
Not only did the old friends come, but I made a lot of new friends, too, and some of them are so interesting. I met a man whom I’m seeing now, and I like him very, very much. He came to visit my girlfriend, and it just so happened that we liked each other. I feel good with him. I hope it’s love, and I hope it’ll be forever.
I always had a lot of people around me, and this attention actually tired me, because I was still weak and medicated. But still, I like this fatigue — better than if there was no one! I remember a whole class from Haifa came, same grade as mine, with a huge bunch of roses!
Elderly people came from retirement homes to wish me a speedy recovery and brought me their last pennies.
One day, a man brought a check for 20,000 shekels from Mikhail Chernoy. I was in shock: all of this for me? He apologized that it was so little, because it was shared among everybody. The Rishon LeZion Mayor’s office sent a car for us and brought us food. The town solves every problem we have.
A lot of people came and are coming still. Irina had close friends whom I knew well. Our house was like a club. Her school was five minutes away, and we had children around all the time. And there are still three mothers who don’t leave me alone. Her schoolteachers are caring for me a lot, too.
At first, there was a lot of sympathy. People called, sent letters, condolences.
But after three months, everybody began forgetting. After the official monument was unveiled, it all quieted down. But I come to the monument on the first of every month anyway.
Many people showed compassion. My family wouldn’t leave my side for thirty days. They still call and visit. I am grateful to everybody who visited, of course. Also to SELA. These people were very kind and sensitive — not just to me, but to all the victims. The state helped me, too. But what can they do? They can’t give me back my son. Compared to this loss, what they’re giving me is nonsense, it’s meaningless to me. I don’t want anything — just my son. Alas, this is not realistic.
People just kept coming, hundreds of them, morning to evening . . . Incredible how many people. Children, students, Russians, Israelis, various organizations . . . I couldn’t remember them all.
Thank God for Zaava, an Israeli woman who spent the entire shiva at my house, twelve hours a day. She would meet people, talk to them, and write down who can do what for me. She made a few files of clippings for me, both in Hebrew and in Russian. I keep all the condolences that people have sent and keep sending in little packages. Letters come from Israel, from America; recently I got three cards from England. Children send their drawings.
People don’t let me be by myself. This woman Roni took me out to show me the old Jaffa at night. Of course, the mood I’m in, I really don’t feel like doing anything, but staying home by yourself is not a good idea either. . . My husband died two and a half years ago, and now my daughter. It’s tough.
There was a lot of sympathy, a lot of moral and material support. But I can’t single anyone out — I couldn’t see anything then.
Best of all I remembered a religious woman from Bnei Brak who came to the hospital. She really seemed to put her heart into it.
Nadezhda, his mother:
We were in the cafeteria at the Ikhilov Hospital, and a woman comes up and says, “I’m looking for this boy, I read about him in the paper, and I want to talk to him and help him.” She had been looking for us for such a long time!
She was so tired. She’s a lonely woman, she doesn’t have anybody, she lives in a hotel. And she gives us an envelope — “sorry, it’s a little awkward, please don’t take this the wrong way . . .”
I opened the envelope — a thousand shekels . . . I burst into tears. Imagine the kind of money it is for her! It really helped us then. And she sounded so confident: “Maksim, you’ll be fine. Everything will be wonderful. I can feel it. You, your mom, your dad. I’m so happy I met you.” She’s the one who made us believe everything will be fine.
Some old folks from a retirement home in Kfar Saba called: “We pitched in, tell us your account number, we want to wire you the money.” They called us back several times: “We are waiting for Maksim to come and visit.” We will visit, of course, and Maksim will play guitar for them. He’s been at home for only a few days. And he’s about to have a surgery.
People came in just like that, both friends and strangers. A thousand calls! At work, everybody waited for me to come back. Never hired anyone else. All came to visit. I didn’t expect that. Who am I? An ordinary cleaning woman. My employer visited: “You’re not a cleaning woman. You’re our friend and a part of the family.” This was so nice.
And we’re grateful to the state; the surgeries were so expensive, on both legs, several hours long. Then there was rehab therapy at Ikhilov. Everything was paid for. Then we spent a month at a rehab facility at Bat Yam.