Nava Applebaum

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Nava (or Naava)[1] Applebaum (also spelled Appelbaum)[2] (Hebrew: נאווה אפלבאום‎; c. 1983 – September 9, 2003)[3] was a 20-year-old Israeli-American woman who was murdered together with her father on the evening before her wedding by a Palestinian suicide bomber.[4]

Journalist Yossi Klein Halevi described the incident as an "epic tragedy", and wrote: "If a new book of the Bible were ever written about the modern return to Zion, it would have to include the story of the Applebaums."[5]


Nava Applebaum was the eldest daughter of David and Debra Applebaum, the third of six children.[1][4] Her father, David Applebaum, was a prominent emergency department doctor well known for work on methods for assisting suicide bombing victims.[1] He was born in Detroit, Michigan, and moved to Chicago, Illinois, as a teenager.[6] After being ordained as a rabbi, he attended Northwestern University and graduated with a Masters in Biology.[6] David then attended the University of Toledo Medical Center.[6] He moved to Israel in 1982, and traveled back at times to practice in the United States.[6]

David's daughter Nava was born in Cleveland, Ohio.[7][8] The family later moved to Israel, where David became chief of the emergency department and trauma services at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and Nava graduated from Horev Girls High School.[2] Applebaum first met her fiancé, Chanan Sand, when she was 17 and he was 16, at an Ezra religious youth group, where they both served as youth group advisers.[1] A year later they were engaged, but delayed their wedding for two years.[9] As part of her two-year Sherut Leumi service (alternative national service), Applebaum worked with children with cancer.[1][6] She planned on studying chemistry or genetics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and her goal was to find a cure for cancer.[1][6][10]

Sand and Applebaum scheduled their wedding for September 10, 2003, in Ramat Rachel, a kibbutz south of Jerusalem.[1][6]


A few hours before the bombing, on September 9, Applebaum attended the mikveh (ritual bath), as required by Halakha (Jewish law) for all brides prior to their wedding.[10][11] She then began helping her family with the wedding arrangements, when her father decided to take her out for a "father-daughter" talk before her wedding.[1][2][12][13] They went to Café Hillel on Emek Refaim Street, in Jerusalem.[1]

On the day of the bombing, September 9, security guards in the vicinity of Café Hillel were told to be on the lookout for a suicide bomber.[6] At around 11:20 pm, a security guard stationed at a nearby pizza parlor noticed a man walking by with a bulky square-shaped box under his shirt.[6] He yelled at the man to stop, but the man refused.[6] The security guard did not want to shoot him in the back, for fear that it would detonate the bomb.[6] A few seconds later, the suicide bomber detonated the bomb close to the entrance of Café Hillel.[6] Nava and her father were entering the cafe at that time.[6] Nava was killed together with her father.[6] She was dead by the time she was reached by paramedics.[12][14]

Applebaum's fiancé, Chanan Sand, collapsed in the emergency department of Shaare Zedek Medical Center upon hearing that his fiancée had not survived.[2] She was buried the next day adjacent to her father in the Har HaMenuchot cemetery, in the western part of Jerusalem.[4][15]

Hundreds of friends and relatives traveling to Israel for the wedding arrived to find that they would be attending her funeral instead, on the day she was supposed to get married.[1][16][17][18][19] Sand attended the funeral, and placed in her grave the wedding ring he had planned on giving her at the wedding.[1][20]

Post-death events[edit]

The poignant tragedy of a father and daughter murdered on the evening before the daughter's wedding moved Israelis, who continue to recall the tragedy years later.[21][22]

A few days after the bombing, another engaged couple decided to hold their Sheva Brachot celebrations at the site of the suicide attack.[23] The choice of venue was intended "as a sign of 'continuity'".[23] The celebration was video-conferenced to numerous Jewish communities around the world.[23]

Numerous memorials and charity projects were undertaken in memory of Nava Applebaum.[11][24][25] The top of Applebaum's unworn wedding gown was made into a covering for the Torah ark at Rachel's Tomb.[26][27][28][29] It is inscribed: "Nava Applebaum, A Bride for Eternity."[30] The skirt of the wedding gown was formed into a wedding canopy for other couples to stand beneath during their chuppah ceremony.[11]

Dr. Paige Applebaum Farkas, a Teaneck, New Jersey, resident and second cousin to David Applebaum, and her brother, Dr. Eric Applebaum, also of Teaneck, raised money to build a special room for brides at the mikvah in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem.[11]

A memorial service honoring Nava and her father held in New Jersey one year after their deaths drew over a thousand people.[11]

The Naava Applebaum Circle of Life Endowment was established by the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and it supports the Sherut Leumi service, in which Nava Applebaum participated.[24][31]

All Bat Mitzvah girls (12-year-old girls, who at that age become responsible for their actions according to Jewish law) of Moriah School in Englewood, New Jersey receive a book of Psalms inscribed in the memory of Nava Applebaum.[11]

A dowry fund was also established, the Naava Applebaum Kallah Fund, for brides that cannot afford the basic wedding necessities.[11][32]

In 2006, Nava's brother Yitzchak was in medical school.[33] At that time, her sister Shira was a paramedic planning on attending medical school.[33] When Shira got married she used Nava's wedding gown as part of the canopy.[25]

Applebaum's fiancé, Chanan Sand, was unable to date for several years after her death because of his grief, but became engaged in 2009.[34] Members of the Applebaum family attended the engagement party.[34]

In October 2011, Ibrahim Dar Musa, who was involved in the planning of the suicide attack, was released from prison as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.[35]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kordova, Shoshana (September 12, 2003). "Almost too Tragic to be True". Haaretz.
  2. ^ a b c d "Nava Appelbaum". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 9 September 2003.
  3. ^ Purpura, Philip P. (2007). Terrorism and Homeland Security: An Introduction with Applications. Butterworth–Heinemann. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-7506-7843-8.
  4. ^ a b c Myre, Greg (September 11, 2003). "A Healer of Terror Victims Becomes One". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Klien Helavi, Yossi (September 25, 2003). "The historic significance of American aliya". The Jerusalem Post.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Cole, Leonard A. (2007). Terror: How Israel has Coped and What America can Learn. Indiana University Press. pp. 9–15, 68–69. ISBN 978-0-253-34918-7.
  7. ^ Congressional Record, July 20, 2005. United States Government Printing Office. p. 376.
  8. ^ Shapiro, Peggy (April 11, 2008). "Diplomacy is not the Dr. Phil Show!". The American Thinker.
  9. ^ Dan, Uri (September 15, 2003). "'Springtime Love' Lost – Teen Mourns Fiance Slain In Suicide Blast". New York Post.
  10. ^ a b Van Biema, David; Eric Silver; Elizabeth Coady (September 22, 2003). "One Last Father-Daughter Chat". Time.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Goldrich, Lois (22 December 2005). "A Blessing for new Brides". Jewish Standard.
  12. ^ a b Asad, Talal (2007). On Suicide Bombing. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-14152-9.
  13. ^ Mickolus, Edward F.; Simmons, Susan L. (2006). Terrorism, 2002–2004: A Chronology. Praeger Security International. ISBN 978-0-313-33475-7.
  14. ^ Feiler, Bruce (2005). Where God was Born: A Journey by Land to the Roots of Religion. William Morrow and Company. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7394-6692-6.
  15. ^ Shragai, Nadav; Shoshana Kordova (10 September 2003). "Bombing kills hospital ER chief and daughter". Haaretz.
  16. ^ "Suicide attack claims top Israeli doctor". BBC. 11 September 2003.
  17. ^ Taylor Martin, Susan (September 11, 2003). "2 more lost in land too used to terror". St. Petersburg Times.
  18. ^ Shoag, Daniel W. (3 November 2003). "Peace, Justice and Suicide Bombings?". The Harvard Crimson.
  19. ^ Nelson, Craig (September 15, 2003). "Too CloseTo Deadly Terrorism". Times Union.
  20. ^ Lash Balint, Judy (2007). Jerusalem Diaries II: What's Really Happening in Israel. Xulon Press. pp. 120–23. ISBN 978-1-60266-044-1.
  21. ^ Collins, Liat (19 August 2010). "My Word: When Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  22. ^ Rosenbaum, Matthew (September 30, 2004). "A Night at Cafe Hillel". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
  23. ^ a b c Sheleg, Yair (September 12, 2003). "Wedding party planned for Jerusalem bombing site". Haaretz.
  24. ^ a b Clark Felty, Dana (June 3, 2006). "A chuppa story; It looks like just a pretty tablecloth, held up on four poles to form a canopy". Savannah Morning News.
  25. ^ a b Davis, Barry (April 16, 2010). "Mourning together; The theme of this year's alternative Remembrance Day ceremony, organized by the first civilian victim of the intifada, is bereaved families who have lost more than one member". The Jerusalem Post.
  26. ^ Selwyn, Tom (2011). Contested Mediterranean Spaces: Ethnographic Essays in Honour of Charles Tilly. Berghahn Books. p. 286. ISBN 9780857451330. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  27. ^ Schwartz, Joshua. "The Story of Rachel's Tomb [Hebrew: 'Al em ha-derekh: Sipuro shel Kever Rachel] (review)" (PDF). The Jewish Quarterly Review. University of Pennsylvania Press. 97 (Summer 2007). ISSN 0021-6682.
  28. ^ HaLevi, Ezra (7 May 2006). "Photo Essay: A Visit to the Matriarch Rachel's Fortified Tomb". Arutz Sheva.
  29. ^ Gross, Netty C. (January 4, 2009). "Who Weeps for Rachel?; A Revered Holy Site for Generations, Rachel's Tomb on the Road to Bethlehem has Become a Political and Religious Icon". The Jerusalem Post.
  30. ^ Chabin, Michele (September 26, 2008). "Drawn To Mother Rachel". The Jewish Week.
  31. ^ Leon, Masha (July 1, 2005). "Foundation for Jewish Culture Lauds 'Brooklyn Boy' Playwright". The Forward.
  32. ^ Bender, Dave; Don Izenberg (11 February 2005). "Routing for Rahel". The Jerusalem Post.
  33. ^ a b Siegel-Itzkovich, Judy (23 November 2006). "Dr. David Applebaum's daughter starts medical career". The Jerusalem Post.
  34. ^ a b Cashman, Greer Fay (December 15, 2009). "The Dershowitz dynasty". The Jerusalem Post.
  35. ^ Lewin, Nathan (November 6, 2011). "America Can Prosecute Terrorists Freed by Israel". The New York Sun.

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