Remembering The Dolphinarium

Remembering The Dolphinarium

A book memorializing the 21 primarily Russian teenage girls killed by a suicide bomber outside a Tel Aviv disco a year ago isn’t finished yet, says the mother of one of the victims, "because there are a lot more [terrorist attacks] happening."
Each time there has been another terrorist attack, says Riina Rudin, "we relive [Simona’s death] all over again."
Simona, 17, was killed in the June 1, 2001 attack, which also injured 120. Rudin says the book should be widely read to convince the world to stamp out terrorism.
"Dolphinarium: Terror Targets the Young," published by the Mikhail Chernoy Foundation, contains remembrances of the victims by their families, as well as recollections by many of those injured in the attack and photographs from family albums. Another section deals with revenge, forgiveness, fate and compassion.
"There is a lot of truth in this book," Rudin says. "The people who spoke in this book told what happened to them and what they were feeling."
Rudin recalls the night of the tragedy: "I didn’t encourage her to go" to the Dolphinarium, she says. "She had passed an exam that day and wanted to celebrate her high grade. She had more exams two or three days later and was only going out for two hours.
"I heard the breaking news [of the bombing] on the television and I had a bad feeling because I knew she was in that area. I called her cell phone and didn’t get an answer. My husband and I went to three hospitals and when we didn’t find her, we went to the morgue. It was a terrible night, a nightmare."
Rudin, 43, who attended a recent reception at UJA-Federation here to promote the book, says she could bring herself to read only some chapters.
"I can’t read the whole thing," she says. "It’s very difficult for me."
Simona went to the disco with her friend and neighbor in Holon, Rita Abramova, 18. They were holding hands when the bomb exploded.
"Everyone flew in different directions and I found myself on the ground with bones sticking out of my arm," Rita said in an interview. "I could not stand up. I looked for Simona and couldn’t see her."
Rita says she was taken to a hospital and told that Simona was recovering in another hospital. But a week after the attack, she spotted Simona’s name in a newspaper listed among those killed in the attack.
Polina Valis, 19, another injured teenager, says she hopes the book will keep alive the memory of the disco attack.
"I think people have forgotten it already," she said.
Until the attack, Polina said she was not afraid in Israel. But since then, "I’m very fearful because a lot of my friends died and lot of mothers are left alone. Nobody thought they would kill children.
"My father is a bus driver and he is very frightened to go to work," she adds. "I have to ride a bus to get to school and to continue on with my life. We don’t have school buses in Israel.
"But I have fears about going to a cafe or a restaurant. Things are worse now because we have two or three attacks a day sometimes."
Asked how she felt being in New York, Polina replied: "I feel like I’m in Tel Aviv. The difference is, here you are not afraid."

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