Dikla Hazony was at work in Rockville on Wednesday when reports started coming about a shooting incident at Sarona Market in Tel Aviv. One of the fatalities, Ido Ben-Ari, 42, was Hazony’s cousin.
“I received a text message from my mother that Ido Ben-Ari and his wife were injured. After two long, stressful hours, we were told he had passed away at the scene,” she told 100 gathered on Friday outside Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar in Bethesda. It was at Max Brenner’s at the Sarona Market where two Palestinians ordered coffee and a brownie before shooting at other patrons.
The gathering was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
With tears in her eyes, Hazony described Ben-Ari as a “warm, generous, family man” who was “a prankster, who would always make us laugh until our stomachs ached.” Ben-Ari’s wife and two children, 14 and 16, were also at Sarona Market during the attack. Hazony described how Ben-Ari’s wife was able to push one of her children underneath the table to avoid the gunfire; the other managed to escape.
Ben-Ari worked in a senior position at Coca-Cola and served in the Israeli army’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit. Others killed in the Wednesday night attack include Michael Feige, a sociologist and anthropologist specializing in Israeli society; Mila Mishayev, 33, of Ashkelon and Ilana Navaa, 39, of Tel Aviv, JTA reported.
“This is a great way for us to come together in support of our brothers and sisters in Israel, the Max Brenner company, and all of those around the world who seek peace and oppose violence,” said Halber, executive director of the JCRC.
Rabbi Baht Weiss, vice president of the Washington board of rabbis, led the gathering in two blessings: one for peace and the other the blessing said before eating chocolate. Sweets were the theme of the day as guests held signs saying “Peace is Sweet” and enjoyed sweets from Max Brenner’s.
Attendees came from Maryland, Washington and Virginia.
Glenn Prickett came from Great Falls, Va. “I was horrified when I heard about the event,” he said. My family had just been in Sarona Market a few months ago, so it struck home very personally. I wanted to come and show my solidarity with the victims and the people of Israel.”
Lanny Plotkin, of Olney, summed up his reaction to the terrorist attack with one word: disgust.
“With the ongoing terrorism that takes place and the lack of Arab condemnation when it happens, it’s just an unconscionable event,” he said.
Local clergy also attended, including Rev. Roy Howard, of St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Bethesda.
“I think it’s important for people to gather in a public space, not only to give their sympathy and condolences for those who are grieving in Tel Aviv and around the Jewish world right now, but also to make a very public stand that peace is the way forward.”