‘I Do Not Blame Anyone’

In the Ganei Hadar neighborhood of Petach Tikva the two sons and four daughters of Mrs. Shalva Zelfreund, a”h, are sitting shivah.

Mrs. Zelfreund, 64, passed away over Shabbos from the coronavirus.

Due to a message written by their mother two weeks ago, when she first caught the virus, her daughters agreed to speak to Israeli media, and gave over the message they thought their mother would have wanted to convey to Klal Yisrael.

The conversation was opened by the daughter Gitty, who began by discussing their late mother. “Our mother was a very, very special woman, not only as a mother. We of course knew her as a mother, but she was actually a mother of many, many children, for almost 47 years. She was a teacher. She had an unusual devotion to each and every child. Even we, as her children, don’t remember her ever raising her voice or getting angry.

“She was as she was called, Shalva: peaceful, calm, with a pleasant demeanor and nobility.”

The daughter went on to describe the sequence of events that led to her passing. “She was in the health-risk group. During the first wave, she was very careful and really did not leave the house. We did all the shopping and did the maximum possible to stay safe. When everyone returned to work, she did not return for three weeks — even though the doctor allowed her to return.”

She continued, “At that stage, when there was a sense of ‘the corona is behind us,’ our mother went back to doing the thing she loved most: educating the children of Israel with immense love. She has been doing this for 47 years — and every day she got up as if it were the first day, with innovations and energy, to do anything to make it better for the children.”

To reassure those who may feel remorse for what may have caused their mother’s death, she said, “We do not know how she contracted the coronavirus. After all, no one really knows anything about this virus … Our mother didn’t leave the house to go anywhere, only to the kindergarten.

“There have been stories and narratives here and there,” she admitted, “but now that we’re after this tragic disaster, we’d rather not be in this place. If I were to ask Ima now, ‘What do you say about this whole story that came out to the media?’ she would’ve told me, ‘Gitty, help me get out of this bad scene immediately!’

“She was a woman of peace. Disputes and arguments were the last thing she wanted — especially after she has passed away. Some may blame the parents, but even my mother, in the post that she wrote, added — and this was ignored by the mainstream media — ‘I do not blame anyone; the Hand of Hashem was in the matter.’

“So this is the message we want to convey: We are not angry and we have no complaints to anyone in the world, chalilah. Even the car accident in which our father, z”l, was killed six years ago — to this very day we do not know the driver’s name or details. We do not ask questions. It is this emunah that holds us strong in these moments. We know what He wants to happen — happens.”

The second message from Mrs. Zelfreund’s children is, “We call on all: Follow the guidelines, keep the rules and think about the people closest to you. Do what needs to be done. Do not try to whitewash the rules. There are so many people who are hurting now with her passing. Generations of children are crying over her loss.”