Skip to comments.Park Hotel tries to overcome last year's Seder night massacre
Posted on 04/15/2003 1:34:03 PM PDT by yonif
This year's Seder meal will be especially poignant at Netanya's Park Hotel, where one year ago a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 29 and wounded more than 60.
"This evening will be very symbolic," says hotel proprietor Corinne Mamami. "All the guests will come to identify with us, to prove that the Palestinians will not destroy us. This is our country and we will not move from it. They will not break our spirit."
About 150 paying guests are expected at this evening's service and meal, to be held under unprecedented security arrangements.
"We will conduct a regular Seder service," Mamami told The Jerusalem Post. "I hope it will be a happy one." The hotel has invited victims of last year's attack to attend free of charge. It is unknown how many will accept the invitation. "We've had a difficult year," says Mamami, whose husband Amiram was killed in the blast. "I was left with six children. It demands a lot of strength."
The hotel's all-Jewish staff was frantically preparing for Pessah on Tuesday afternoon, as local police officers reviewed security provisions and armed policemen patrolled the building's perimeter.
"All tourism in Netanya is down this year because of the terror attacks, and several hotels have closed or severely cut back their activities. We've been forced to lay off much of our staff but we are determined to continue," says Mamami. While occupation rates at the family-owned 90-room, six-suite seaside hotel have plummeted, the Park Hotel's renovated events hall has hosted dozens of family functions this year.
"Every event strengthens our existence in the Land of Israel. There are few foreign tourists nowadays. We have a few overseas guests from France right now, but not a single English speaker."
"We are here to have good time," says Patrick Amar, 36, an Air France aeronautical engineer who is spending Pessah week in the hotel with his wife Valerie, 36, and children Johanna, 8, Iris, 6, and three-year-old twins Michael and Odelia. This is the Amar family's seventh consecutive Seder night in Israel.
"Last year we rented an apartment close to the hotel. I heard the explosion as I was returning from synagogue. It was like a knife through my heart," Amar said.
"We are aware of the risk of a terrorist attack. I know about the suicide bomber in [nearby] Caf London [on March 30], but you cannot stop living. There are risks everywhere. I go to markets and other crowded places in Israel, but not with my children."
The Amar family is considering making aliya in the future. "We have not felt at home in Paris these past two years, and want to support Israel both in good and bad times," he adds. According to Mamami, this evening's guest list includes religious and secular Israelis from all walks of life.
"I want to be there because of what happened last time," says Maxim Barak from Ashkelon, who will attend together with his ex-wife and daughter. "Call it patriotism, if you like." Avraham Ohev Zion, 60, decided to book seats at the Seder service for his wife and 18-year-old son Tuesday morning, after watching a television feature about the hotel's economic struggle. "I saw how they want to revive their business, and realized that they need support."
Ohev Zion added that he identifies for another reason. "I'm a fifth generation Jerusalemite, and I've seen many terror attacks from up close. I am no longer religious, but this Seder may be a moving experience."
Miri Kfir was hospitalized for trauma after witnessing the carnage of last November's bus explosion at the Karkur junction. Kfir, a single mother, will attend together with her four children ages 18, 16, 14, and 10. "I'll be there to identify with the other terror victims. Everyone who has been through such an experience is like my family.
"I still have nightmares about burning bodies. It's a trauma for all life you never shake it off. The mental wound will never heal. It follows me everywhere.
"My innermost fear is what happens if a terrorist gets into the hotel lobby again. My children are worried, but I feel that it's the right place for us to be. We must show that we're not scared and that terrorism will not beat us. Hats off to the hotel for trying to make people happy again. Maybe it will help me heal."
The Park Hotel is offering a double room half-board package including the Seder meal for NIS 800. Call 09-862334 for details.
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