‘It is too much, Dayenu—It is not supposed to be this way’: Rabbi Mark Fishman on the terror attack deaths of Maia, Rina and Lucy Dee

Lucy Dee (left) and daughters Rina (centre) and Maia (right) died as a result of a drive-by shooting in the West Bank.

Sisters Maia and Rina Dee, of Efrat, Israel, were killed in an ambush April 7 as they were driving with their mother, Lucy. Rabbi Mark Fishman—who was leader at Montreal’s Beth Tikvah Congregation before he made aliyah with his family to Efrat—posted these remarks on his Facebook page. Lucy died in hospital of the injuries she sustained in the attack, shortly after her daughters’ funeral.

I first met Leo (Rabbi Leo Dee) and Lucy when I was on a pilot trip to rabbinical school. It was the summer of 2006 and I was visiting the institution that would be where I would spend the next three years studying to become a rabbi.

Leo, who had started a year earlier, sat a couple of chairs away. Raised in London, he was sharp as a tack and admired by all. He went on to serve as a rabbi in the U.K. for five years, his family was beloved and although his community were saddened by his decision, he returned to Israel, settling down in Efrat, just next to where our yeshiva was located.

I had not seen him since I myself graduated, yet upon our return, also to Efrat, we reconnected and now bump into one another in shul, in the street, at various Torah classes.

Together with Lucy they have raised beautiful children. Leo is one of those people that succeeded at everything he put his hand to: education, rabbinics, career (he worked in finance before changing his life to serve the Jewish people as a rabbi). But perhaps his greatest accomplishment, together with Lucy, was raising his incredible family.

Pesach in Israel is a time for family trips (tiyulim). Like so many others they went out as a family, looking to have fun, yet this second day of Pesach ended in catastrophe.

Driving in two separate cars to their destination in the northern Jordan Valley, Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the car Lucy was driving, causing it to crash into the highway’s shoulder. The terrorists then walked over to the car, opened fire and sprayed bullets at those inside. Two of the family’s daughters, Maia and Rina, were killed. Lucy was airlifted to Hadassah Hospital where she remained in critical condition. She is in a coma and does not yet know the fate of her daughters.

The city of Efrat went from joy to mourning instantly. In an already tight-knit community, this tragedy feels like it is everyone’s extended family members who were murdered. Maia, 20 years old and Rina, 15 years old were murdered together, and yesterday, in keeping with an ancient custom, they were buried together in the same grave.

Leo, at his wife’s bedside, had to leave her to go and bury two of his daughters.

Dayenu: This is too much—It is not supposed to be this way.

In front of Knesset ministers, in front of the world’s cameras and press, in front of a community of thousands who came to the funeral, dayenu: This is too much—It is not supposed to be this way.

Here in Israel, there has become a custom in recent years for the youth of the community, teenagers in pain, to express their raw emotions through quiet song. To hear young Israelis in the funeral home sing soft, slow songs of yearning… it breaks the heart.

Unused to this culture I could not join in. In truth I found it hard to even breathe, let alone give voice to the pain. Dayenu: This is too much—It is not supposed to be this way.

To hear the younger siblings say how they looked up to and wanted to be like their older sisters was to cry tears of such power you thought the world would end. To then hear how they all said: “I wish the bullets would have targeted me instead of you,”—in a real way, the world did end. Two worlds. Two beautiful, precious souls. Dayenu: This is too much—It is not supposed to be this way.

In the eulogy—you can listen to the whole thing in the video above—Leo said:

“The formula for faith is always to focus on what you do have and not what you do not have. I still have three wonderful children and a wonderful wife,” he declared.

“My beautiful perfect Maia, we named you ‘God’s water’ and you were so many people’s friend, flowing between so many different groups. You were always an angel, now you will always be our guardian angel.”

Addressing Rina, he described her as a dedicated student and friend, and a responsible person who others relied upon and trusted.

“You would tidy the youth club for hours by yourself. People loved you and knew they could depend on you,” he said and noted she had been considering enlisting in the IDF after high school and religious studies.

“You dreamed of traveling the world, now you’re traveling to heaven,” said Rabbi Dee, who was traveling with other members of the family in a car ahead of his wife, Maia and Rina, on a trip to Tiberias.

“Maia and Rina, you are two flames who have not gone out. You will bring more light to the world. You have inspired and loved us; in return, we will love you forever.”

Dayenu: This is too much—It is not supposed to be this way.

Rabbi Leo Dee speaking at the funeral for his daughters, Maia and Rina, April 9, 2023.