The 15th of Av: From Grief to Love

From grief to love: The touching story of the bereaved son and the volunteer

Shai lost his father and uncle in a terrorist attack during the Second Intifada. Sarit volunteered in an organization for victims of enemy actions, and from the most painful place they met, they turned into each other's greatest love and formed a family

The couple at the wedding (Photo: courtesy of the family)

The touching love story of a couple who met from the most painful place and became each other's greatest love. Shai Udeser, who lost his father and uncle in a terrorist attack during the Second Intifada about 21 years ago, met his wife a year later when he volunteered in an organization for victims of enemy actions, and she served there for her national service. On the occasion of Tu B'Av, Shai shared how they built their relationship from the profound loss, thanks to the emotional connection they formed.

"The pain was unbearable"

Shai, a son of a family who tragically lost his father in a shooting attack about 21 years ago during the Second Intifada. During that time, Shai was serving as a soldier in the northern part of the country. He described the bitter moment of receiving the news: "I first saw the news about the attack in the media, and then they came and gently informed me that my father was killed and my uncle was severely injured. What I didn't know at that moment was that he was also killed, but they didn't want to burden me. When I got home, I already knew that my uncle was also killed in the attack, and the pain was unbearable."

The Second Intifada (Photo: Flash 90)

Immediately after the attack, the bereaved family was approached by the organization for victims of enemy actions, an organization that brings together thousands of bereaved families, widows, orphans, and disabled individuals who have been recognized by the State of Israel as victims of enemy actions. They told them about the organization and its significance in their lives from that moment on. Shai said, "They tried to involve me in their activities. At first, I was apprehensive, feeling that it wasn't for me to join their outings. I was a soldier back then, and although I later moved to a desk job after the attack, I didn't want to be discharged, and at the same time, I thought these outings were more for young children and teenagers, not so much for me."

"Instead, I decided to volunteer in the organization, about a year after the attack. It was important for me to do it for the sake of the bereaved families. It already felt like a part of me, and I had a need to do something meaningful."

"We didn't have an ideal start, most of the conversations were about bereavement and terrorist attacks"

"From the moment that Shai began volunteering in the organization for victims of hostilities, his touching love story and that of his future wife also began. Shai shares, 'When I started volunteering, I saw a girl named Sarit, 19 years old, who came to the organization as part of her national service, and sparks flew immediately between us.' Shai laughs and continues, 'One of the organization's coordinators, who helped me get involved, noticed the tension between us, those youthful sparks that touch each one. She came and told me that Sarit is organizing herself, putting on makeup, and exercising before I arrive.'"

Shai and Sarit today (Photo: courtesy of the family)

"I must admit, it was strange. I thought that in such circumstances, I would meet my future wife within a certain timeframe. I was afraid in my heart that she might be with me out of pity, but it was an internal feeling. In many situations, when we talked about the attack, it was difficult for her to listen and see; mostly, she avoided it. The beginning of our relationship wasn't ideal like other couples who simply get to know each other and experience butterflies. Most of our conversations started with grief and attacks, but it can be said that following the attack, I had the opportunity to meet my wife and build a family."

They established a family, brought four children into the world, and still volunteer in the organization

Two years after Shai and his wife Sarit started dating, and they got married. Today, they are a married couple with four children, and they have a happy and content family. The grief is always there, but they live alongside it and not within it. Shai still volunteers in the organization for victims of enemy actions and feels that it is an inseparable part of him. He summarizes and says, "From my greatest pain came my greatest love."

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