I’m offering a post from the POV of one of my heartbreaking heroes, my sexy Israeli Ezra Arnon Skoloda.
I’m Sgt. Ezra Arnon Skoloda, and my beautiful wife Agnieszka and I run a kibbutz called Beit Alizah, House of Joy, in Haifa. I was born and raised in Tel Aviv, but after my mandatory military service, I moved to Haifa and became the director of a kibbutz. It was a dream since boyhood to live on a kibbutz. And I was hoping to find a wife in Haifa too.
I had my heart broken by two women I was dating, and then I met my Nessa in June of ’94. She and her best friend Lillian Hitchcock had just graduated high school in America and come to volunteer on a kibbutz for two years. At first I was annoyed when I saw one of the new volunteers was still sleeping when I came to meet her, but only till I saw how beautiful she was. Because she was only 18, and I was 22 and with more experience, I didn’t tell her how I felt at first.
It turned out Nessa was in love with me too all along, and had actually fallen for me when she first saw my picture in the brochure. I wish I could say our relationship was perfect, unlike my previous experiences, but real life isn’t about happy endings with hospital corners on silver platters.
I know I caused her no small amount of grief because I didn’t take things to the next level as soon as she wanted. I made a huge mistake by giving my virginity to some girl who didn’t mean anything to me when I was 17. I always told myself that the next lover I took would be my soulmate, and that I had to take time to make sure the relationship was lasting and leading to marriage.
We came close one night in the summer of ’95, when we got back together after Nessa had dumped me a few weeks before. She saw my one-time lover Irit, and was so upset at putting a face to my sexual history. I sent her pleading love letters every single day, and finally took matters into my own hands that night. I managed to stop myself before we crossed the point of no return.
Then I upset her by waiting too long to propose. Even her grandma got on my case about not marrying Nessa soon enough! I’d bought her a ring when we were in America for some family celebrations a few months earlier, but I hadn’t gotten up the nerve to give it to her yet.
It’s so cliché, but I found a goodbye note one morning in September ’96 and raced to the airport to stop her from getting on a plane back to the United States. I proposed to her in front of everyone, and took her back home to Haifa. Of course, in those days airport security wasn’t what it is today, so I was able to go all the way to the boarding gate as a non-passenger.
In 2003, I did something I perhaps shouldn’t have, and caused Nessa a great deal of torment. Until just recently, some terrorists were stalking us and trying to kill us, and now my Nessa is in a dazed, unconscious, coma-like state. The doctors say she’s just suffered a series of huge shocks and needs time to recover.
One of my Nessa’s little sisters made aliyah in June 2003 after she graduated high school, settled on the kibbutz with us, quickly met a young soldier and fell in love, and was married by the fall. Tragically, my new 18-year-old brother-in-law was murdered while serving in the West Bank. He wasn’t killed in the line of duty. He was murdered by terrorists.
I was so furious I went over there myself, tracked these three assassins down, and killed them. I wasn’t thinking with a cool head. I just wanted to revenge the great wrong done to my 18-year-old sister-in-law. Not only is she a teen widow, but she also found out, shortly after the murder, that she was pregnant with triplets. That poor kid doesn’t deserve all this.
Some relatives of the murderers then tracked my family down, and began terrorizing us. They broke into our home on several occasions, and I thought they’d killed my Nessa and our twin girls after the first break-in. The second time, I came in to find one of these punks about to rape my wife, as our girls watched.
I thought Nessa would be happy I saved her, but she decided to leave me. She blamed me for bringing this menace into our lives, and was going to take our girls. She even told her sister that she didn’t think she loved me anymore. Thankfully, she changed her mind soon after, but the thugs were still after us.
Maybe a week ago, these terrorists captured us in the marketplace. Haifa is Israel’s best-integrated city, so this kind of situation is very unusual for us. Normally all five major faiths are friends here. They forced us onto our knees and held us at gunpoint, and refused my pleas to kill only me and let Nessa live. We weren’t even allowed to hold hands in our would-be final moments.
As one of them had a gun to my head, there was a rain of bullets, and Nessa passed out. I flung myself over her, and found she was still unconscious when the rescue was over. Ironically, the man who organized our rescue is the grandfather of these scumbags.
Nessa briefly came to at the police station and again at home, but quickly lapsed out again when she thought I’d been killed. I can only hope she comes to soon. I’m about to go to Jerusalem to pray at the Kotel for my wife’s recovery. Maybe a miracle will happen after I get home? This is after all the land of miracles and wonders, the land whose continued existence and survival is a miracle.