Editor's Note: This article is based upon remarks the author delivered at the Jewish Children's Museum's third-annual dinner Sunday night. A project of Chabad-Lubavitch's Tzivos Hashem children's organization, the museum draws visitors of all ages with larger-than-life exhibits exploring the Jewish holidays and Jewish history. Located in the Crown Heights Section of Brooklyn, N.Y., the institution is dedicated to the author's son, Ari Halberstam, who was slain when a terrorist opened fire on a van full of Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva students on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Belt Parkway is a road I take often; it is a road thousands of people use each day. Fourteen years ago, I journeyed on the parkway in a funeral procession, my son's funeral procession. In the fog of my grief and pain, I looked out at the other side of the highway. I saw hundreds, maybe even thousands of cars stopped, in midday traffic, their occupants standing beside their cars, paying their last respects.

This past Thursday, March 6, was the anniversary of my son's death. I had just left the cemetery after visiting Ari, when I reached the Belt Parkway, deep in thought. Then, the news from Jerusalem broke over the radio. Eight young men, the newscaster said, had been studying peacefully in yeshiva when they were assaulted by hate; eight innocent lives were extinguished with a hail of bullets. As they breathed their last, they clutched their holy books.


Once again, terror struck my heart.

I still don't have the words to describe what it's like to lose a son. It's a feeling of pain that never ceases, of memories that never die, no matter how many years pass.

The story of terrorism seems to be a story without end, as it claims victims each day. With each loss, a gaping hole is torn open in the hearts of so many.

So much horrible news is fed to us each day that we become desensitized, almost uncaring. The burden of feeling is just too much. Weary of feeling, we sigh and continue driving, or working or making dinner. But I remember each time. I remember the call, I remember the news.

I also remember those thousands of people standing on the other side of the highway, by the sides of their cars paying their respects. It was an act of kindness and goodwill that is unique to the American people in a city which has its fair share of pain and suffering.

A Gift for Every Child

Ari Halberstam was gunned down by a terrorist 14 years ago.
Ari Halberstam was gunned down by a terrorist 14 years ago.
The Jewish Children's Museum was founded to increase that goodness.

The preeminent historian, Paul Johnson, wrote: "All the great conceptual discoveries of the intellect seem obvious and inescapable once they have been revealed, but it requires a special genius to formulate them for the first time. The Jew has this gift. To them we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person; of the individual conscience and so of personal redemption; of the collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind."

The American idea of spreading democracy and freedom throughout the world parallels the Jewish concept of spreading ethical monotheism and tikkun olam, or "repairing the world." These gifts of social justice and caring are the message the museum seeks to impart to every child who visits.

Often, the impetus and springboard for great change is an inexplicable tragedy. The creation of the museum came about through loss. When I look at all of its supporters, I see people who have taken Ari into their hearts, that have stopped and decided to do what is right and what is decent. I see people who believe in equality and justice, in social responsibility and the callings of conscience.