Sbarro – Twenty Years Ago Today: a Halachic Analysis

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By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

On August 9, 2001, the 20th of Menachem Av 5761, a terrorist bombing of the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem caused the deaths of fifteen holy Neshamos. Among the victims was a 31-year-old day school and high school teacher – Shoshana  Hayman Greenbaum a”h.

What follows is an appreciation of this wonderful young woman written by her students shortly after her passing, the author’s recollections, and a halachic analysis.

I. Morah Hayman a”h

It says in Pirkei Avos “Kol hamelamed bem chaveiro Torah k’elu yaldo” – Anyone who teaches his friend’s son Torah it is as if he gave birth to that child. From here we learn the unique parent-child relationship that a Rebbe/Talmid or Morah/Talmida share.

We are taught that there is no coincidence in our lives and, therefore, there is a purpose and a lesson in every relationship that we have. Morah Hayman left a tremendous impact upon our class and on all of the Talmidot of Yeshivat Lev (SKA). She had an excitement and love for teaching that caused us to appreciate the learning even more.

Everything that she taught, she taught with love and emotion. When Morah Hayman would walk into the classroom, the room would light up. The eagerness in her eyes to start teaching would quiet the class immediately. She was one of the most devoted people that we had ever met. Her Talmidot meant the world to her, and she made sure that we knew that.

She handed us our first Chumash in second grade and taught us Sefer Bereishit. Six years later, in the eighth grade she taught us Sefer Dvarim, along with the thirty-nine malachot. She made sure to apply all of the psukim to our everyday lives, teaching us meaningful lessons. She also encouraged us to express ourselves through art and music by teaching us songs and allowing us to be creative through a scrapbook.

Morah Hayman taught us how to develop compassion for others. She taught how to act in a truly tzanua manner. She taught us what true “Simchat HaChaim” is. With her relentless positive attitude, she succeeded in instilling within her students a love for both learning and life itself. She fueled the sparks of idealism deep inside of us, teaching us that, indeed, one single person can change the world.

Morah Hayman told us our potential knew no boundaries. Yet at the same time she emphasized how lucky we are for the lives we are living at this moment. She beheld the beauty of life, viewing each instant .. each opportunity.. each day, as a fresh bracha from Hashem.

In the newspapers, article after article told us how Dr. & Mrs. Hayman lost their only child and their yet-unborn grandchild. What people do not understand is that Shoshana Hayman Greenbaum left 500 children, each of us her Talmidot, her daughters, to carry on her legacy.

HALB graduates of 1998 & SKA graduate 2002

  • Elana Beck
  • Suri Berkowitz
  • Elisheva Bernstein
  • Rachel Daar
  • Rebecca Feiner
  • Yael Forman
  • Chaya Forspan
  • Yosefa Chana Friedmann
  • Dina Goldstone
  • Hudi Green
  • Elana Hagler
  • Nahva Hollander
  • Shira Horowitz
  • Aliza Katz
  • Leora Klein
  • Michelle Lewinsohn
  • Sheera Lilker
  • Rena Markowitz
  • Abby Rabinowitz
  • Yocheved Rosenbaum
  • Shira Rubel
  • Arielle Schindelheim
  • Sarina Schlusselberg
  • Sharona Sperber
  • Racheli Tannenbaum
  • Leah Teper
  • Elisheva Weiss
  • Ariella Wertheimer
  • Talia Williams
  • Tzirel Yavne

The author has dedicated a sefer on the topic of Mezuzah in memory of Shoshana Hayman Greenbaum. It can be purchased here.

The families that these young women, students of Morah Hayman a”h, stand as a monument to the wonderful chinuch that she had given them.

II. A Personal Recollection

I, personally, remember her growing up as a child, a four-year-old little girl running playfully with her blue-rimmed glasses – the picture of innocence. Her demeanor, deportment, modesty and aidelkeit exemplified – even then – the highest ideal of what a Bas Yisroel can and should be. She was an only child, the pride and joy of her parents, Alan and Shirley (who have since moved to Eretz Yisroel).

Years passed. The family moved. Little Judy became Shoshana. Shoshana enthusiastically pursued her Torah education, growing in Torah knowledge and Yiras Shamayim, fear of Heaven. She became a teacher of Torah and moved to New York.

We taught, for a while, at the same school. My wife and I enjoyed having her for Shabbos weekends. Her students enjoyed her enthusiastic teaching style. She stimulated her students to think.  She inspired them, infusing them with a love for Torah and Judaism. She was a perfect role model for them to emulate. At her wedding, all who knew her danced enthusiastically, for they too were celebrating. The impact she had upon her students was most profound. Even now, years after her passing, her students and acquaintances find it difficult to talk of her without bursting into tears.

Her absolute faith and trust in Hashem was readily seen to all who knew her. Indeed, it was contagious. May Hashem Yisboroch grant peace in this world and among us and all of Israel. Amain.

III. The Victims, the Mass Murderess, and the Halacha

The Victims

The 15 other victims of the bombing were: Giora Balash, 60, Zvika Golombek, 26, Shoshana Yehudit Greenbaum, 31, Tehila Maoz, 18, Frieda Mendelsohn, 62, Michal Raziel, 16, Malka Roth, 15, Mordechai Schijveschuurder, 43, Tzira Schijveschuurder, 41, Ra’aya Schijveschuurder, 14, Avraham Yitzhak Schijveschuurder, 4, Hemda Schijveschuurder, 2, Lily Shimashvili, 33, Tamara Shimashvili, 8, Yocheved Shoshan, 10, Chana Nachenberg, an American citizen who was injured in the bombing, remains hospitalized in a vegetative state 20 years later.

Hashem yinkom damam.

The Mass Murderess

The bombing was orchestrated by mass-murderess Ahlam Ahmad al-Tamimi, shaim reshayim yirkav, now 41 years old, who is wanted by the FBI.

Tamimi planned and participated the Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing. She caused 145 casualties, including the 15 fatalities, half of them children. Tamimi drove and escorted Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, the suicide bomber. Al-Masri died in the attack as they had planned, but al-Tamimi had left the area before the bomb detonated.

She was imprisoned for her mass-murdering activities, but she was released in the  October 2011 prisoner swap for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. At her sentencing, al-Tamimi had received 16 meaningless and consecutive life sentences with an additional 15 years added

At the time of her mass-murder of innocent people, Tamimi was a journalism student at Birzeit University in the West Bank and a part-time journalist.

A month earlier, al-Tamimi had previously placed an explosive device at a Jerusalem grocery store in Jerusalem which exploded, but did not cause damage.

On that very day of her mass-murder, she then reported on the bombing on a Palestinian news channel.

Tamimi has never shown any regrets.  Eleven years after the mass murder and one year after her release, in an interview which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on 12 July 2012 (as translated by MEMRI), this mass-murderess described the reaction of other Palestinians immediately after the bombing:

“Afterwards, when I took the bus, the Palestinians around Damascus Gate [in Jerusalem] were all smiling. You could sense that everybody was happy. When I got on the bus, nobody knew that it was me who had led [him]… I was feeling quite strange, because I had left ‘Izz Al-Din behind, but inside the bus, they were all congratulating one another. They didn’t even know one another, yet they were exchanging greetings…While I was sitting on the bus, the driver turned on the radio. But first, let me tell you about the gradual rise in the number of casualties. While I was on the bus and everybody was congratulating one another..”

After hearing an initial report that “three people were killed” in the bombing, Tamimi stated:

I admit that I was a bit disappointed, because I had hoped for a larger toll. Yet when they said “three dead,” I said: ‘Allah be praised’…Two minutes later, they said on the radio that the number had increased to five. I wanted to hide my smile, but I just couldn’t. Allah be praised, it was great. As the number of dead kept increasing, the passengers were applauding.

When she had first learned from a journalist who was interviewing her in jail that she had murdered eight children, not just three as she had initially believed, she smiled broadly and continued with the interview.

Following her release from prison, Tamimi gave an interview with the Jordanian Ammon News website, which was later posted on YouTube (as translated by MEMRI):

“I do not regret what happened. Absolutely not. This is the path. I dedicated myself to Jihad for the sake of Allah, and Allah granted me success..Do you want me to denounce what I did? That’s out of the question. I would do it again today, and in the same manner.”

Upon her release, al-Tamimi moved to Jordan immediately. She later met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Cairo, Egypt.

Today, this mass murderess of innocent people hosts a Jordanian talk show, Nasim Al-Ahrar (Breeze of the Free), on the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds TV.

To President Obama’s credit, under his administration, the U.S. Justice Department filed criminal charges on July 15th, 2013, in the District of Columbia against Tamimi for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the U.S., resulting in death. The criminal complaint was only unsealed on March 14, 2017. Jordanian courts, however, ruled that Tamimi could not be extradited based on a claim that it went against their constitution.

The extradition treaty between Jordan and the United States was first negotiated for the purpose of arresting Eyad Ismoil, a Jordanian citizen who assisted in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and bringing him back from Jordan to the US. The extradition treaty was signed by Jordan’s King Hussein in 1995 and Ismoil was arrested and handed over to the US later that year.

In March of this year, Interpol dropped its arrest warrant for Tamimi.

One of the few people fighting to get Tamimi extradited is lawyer Stephen Flatow, himself a father of a victim of terrorism (Allysa Flatow a”h hy”d).  He writes:

The simple fact is that the United States has an extradition treaty with Jordan. When President Bill Clinton submitted the treaty to Congress on March 28, 1995, his letter stated:

“The Treaty further represents an important step in combatting terrorism by excluding from the scope of the political offense exception serious offenses typically committed by terrorists, e.g., crimes against a Head of State or first family member of either Party, aircraft hijacking, aircraft sabotage, crimes against internationally protected persons, including diplomats, hostage-taking, narcotics trafficking, and other offenses for which the United States and Jordan have an obligation to extradite or submit to prosecution by reason of a multilateral international agreement or treaty.”

The Halacha

There is a fascinating teshuvah from the Tzemach Tzedek that is quite pertinent here. In seventeenth century Poland, a Jew was brutally murdered outside of Cracow. The police refused to take the case and the question was whether there was an obligation to bribe the police to take the case.

The older Tzemach Tzedek, Rav Menahem Mendel Krochmal, a student of the Bach who lived in Cracow (1600’s) wrote in a responsa (#111) that the answer was, “yes.” He also understands the idea of finding and punishing the murderer, when its cost is significant, as a communal obligation and one where there is a tangible financial obligation incumbent upon us to ensure that police and judicial justice be applied.

US AID TO JORDAN

In 2018, the U.S. and Jordan signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide US$ 6.375 billion in bilateral foreign assistance to Jordan over a 5-year period, pending the availability of funds.  In this author’s view, based upon the Teshuvah from the Tzemach Tzedek (#111), there is a halachic obligation for us to be demanding that the Biden administration make that aid conditional on the extradition of this arch-villian and mass-murderess al-Tamimi.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

The author has dedicated a sefer on the topic of Mezuzah in memory of Shoshana Hayman Greenbaum. It can be purchased here.


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