Have you ever been to the funeral of a 10-month-old? It has to be one of the most unnatural of human experiences. The burial of an infant who was deliberately murdered by terrorists is all the more tragic for the baseless hate it represents.
On Sunday, in the ancient cemetery of Hebron, Shalhevet Techiya Pass was laid to rest beside other Jews who were victims of earlier Arab hatred.
Shalhevet's grieving family sat under the hot midday sun in the forecourt. Parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, they braced themselves for the difficult hours to come. Almost a week had passed since the murder of their baby, but on the advice of their rabbi, they had postponed the burial with the demand that the IDF retake the Abu Sneinah hills that harbored the terrorist who took Shalhevet's life.
Yitzchak Pass, Shalhevet's father, sat ashen-faced. Released from the hospital just before Shabbat, he was unable to walk due to the leg wounds he sustained as he tried to protect his daughter. He wore a yellow baseball cap emblazoned with the slogan "We are here."
As the psalms began, many mourners quietly sobbed. Pass, clutching tissues in his hand, grabbed the arm of his father-in-law for support. Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba gave the first eulogy, a fiery speech calling for the government to avenge the murder of Shalhevet.
A simple gray car carried the tiny body, draped in a dark-blue velvet cover adorned with a gold Star of David, through the streets of Hebron where Shalhevet spent the brief days of her life. Many of the mourners wore pictures of Shalhevet around their necks.
All the stores were shuttered and the streets empty of their Arab residents -- a strict curfew had been imposed to ensure safety. Dozens of IDF soldiers lined the route and were three deep at Gross Square in front of the closed road leading to Abu Sneinah.
In the crowd of quiet marchers, the only public figures visible were former MKs Geula Cohen and Elyakim Haetzni, MK Yuri Shtern and former refusenik Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich.
The procession wended its way under the harsh sun, up the short, steep hill of Tarpat Street and past the cemetery gates. At some point, Pass, immobilized in his wheelchair, held the body of Shalhevet on his knees. At her graveside, there were more eulogies given by Mendelevich and Hebron pioneer Rabbi Moshe Levinger.
As teenagers hugged each other trying to contain their grief and men closed their eyes deep in prayer, the mournful prayer for mercy was sobbed out again before Pass barely managed to intone the mourner's kaddish for his only child.
Another brutal act of hatred entered the annals of Jewish consciousness as the unnatural act of burying a murdered baby was completed.