My name is Yaffa Ben-Shimol.
I am 57 years old.
I was born in Iraq in 1946, where I lived with my parents Haviva and Gurji, and my eight siblings! Iraq was our home, and had for centuries, been the home of a thriving Jewish community. But pogroms during World War II and subsequent anti-Semitic and racist policies instituted by the government changed everything for us. Jews across the country, were dismissed from public office, prominent Jews were persecuted, Jewish institutions were destroyed and the Jewish community was torn apart. So, in 1950 my family emigrated to Israel, where we had a much better life. I met and married my husband Salomon and we live in Jerusalem. I have five amazing children - Yossi, Vivian, Yuval, Jackie and Simona - and nine grandchildren, with a tenth on the way! It is my honor to spend my time helping others. Perhaps this is because my husband is disabled and so caring for those in need comes naturally to me. My friends tell me it is, enough to see my, “beautiful, laughing face to forget, if only a little, the daily troubles." But, as the sole breadwinner, I work hard to support our growing family. I have worked in orphanages, hospitals and elder care centers. Currently, I am working at a retirement home in Talpion.
On February 22, 2004, I boarded the Egged bus Number 14A in the morning to on my way to care for a senior I work with. 23 year old Muhammad Za'ul, a Palestinian terrorist from the Bethlehem, boarded the same bus in the Talpiot industrial area. The two securities guards who has boarded after him - a normal and necessary occurrence in Israel - did not identify him as a threat. The Palestinian terrorist took a great risk, sitting on the bus for quite some time, until it passed by Bell Park, so as to ensure the bus was filled with as many passengers as it would carry. He was not very far from me as we both sat near the center. The Palestinian terrorist then detonated a bomb concealed in his bag. I was immediately killed along with seven others. More than 60 other innocent people were injured.
My name is Yaffa Ben-Shimol. I am 57 years old. And I am one of The Fallen Faces.
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