This week, Kay Wilson observes an auspicious anniversary, one in which she’s just grateful to be alive to experience, despite the many challenges that befell her in 2010.
If you meet Kay today, immediately you see her zest for life, her boisterous outgoing personality. As you get to know Kay, you learn about and appreciate her wit and sense of humor. Having gone through what she went through, you almost have to have a sense of humor, and deep sense of faith. Yet, beneath the exterior, Kay is still scarred, physically and psychologically.
Kay is a licensed Israeli tour guide, the best of the best. She has knowledge of Israel that’s second only to her passion for Israel. In 2010, Kay met Kristine Luken while on a tour in Poland. Kristine wanted to learn more about the unspeakable horrors the Jewish people suffered during the Holocaust.
Kay was struck by Kristine’s sincere desire to learn about Israel and its history, so she invited Kristine to come visit. Kay felt that Kristine was all the more special being Christian and wanting to connect with Israel. Later that fall, Kristine came to visit Kay, and on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, they decided to go for a hike on the Israel National Trail in the Judean Mountains.
Amid their hike, surrounded by pristine forest and magnificent views, they were discovered by Palestinian Arab terrorists lurking amid the trees. It’s hard to imagine why these terrorists were where they were to begin with, miles from their homes, on Shabbat, the Sabbath, when Palestinian Arabs don’t typically work in Israeli communities.
It turns out the terrorists were armed as they were, having slept overnight in the forest, waiting to attack the first Jews who came along. Provoked only by their hatred for Jews, assuming Kristine was Jewish, and that they were carrying huge machetes, the terrorists pounced on the two women. Kay managed to stab one lightly with her penknife, but to no avail. After being held at knifepoint in an isolated area, the terrorists bound, gagged and stabbed both women numerous times. Kay was sure her life was over. She prayed that it be quick.
Kay was able to see and hear Kristine bravely struggling with her attacker while screaming for help. Kristine lay gravely wounded. Kay was stabbed 13 times, one missing her heart by only 4 millimeters. The terrorists left both women for dead.
Kay mustered the inner and physical strength not to die there, in the wilderness, hidden by trees on the edge of a ravine. She knew that if they were to die alone, nobody would know what happened to them. As she was being attacked, she thought of those she and Kristine would leave behind and that they deserved to have closure and know the women’s fate. Kay also wanted her body to be physical evidence that might somehow enable police to find her attackers.
Conflicted by leaving Kristine behind, but knowing she couldn’t do anything to help her, not even utter words of comfort or hold Kristine’s hand, Kay struggled to walk more than a mile, bloody, broken bones and barefoot, to seek help. Her wounds were bleeding, her lung was punctured, and many bones were broken, but she was determined not to die alone in the woods.
Every step was one step closer to finding another human being who would be her witness. Every step was one closer to her eventual death, which was all she could think about. Kay found her witnesses, a family out having a barbecue, and was ready to fall down and die on the spot. But her witnesses did not know Kay’s plan and called for help.
By the time ambulances arrived it was too late for Kristine, but Kay survived. She refers to the paramedic who saved her as her angel. Without him, she knows she wouldn’t have been alive to tell her story. Since then, when all Kay could imagine was walking to die in a place that someone would find her body, her life has a new sense of meaning, of purpose. There’s so much more for which she is grateful.
The week of the attack, the Torah portion was read about Joseph reuniting with his brothers, the same brothers who wanted to kill him and threw him in a pit and left him for dead. Kay is introspective, just as Joseph affirms in the Scripture, “What man meant for evil, God meant for good.”
Nothing can make up for Kristine’s senseless murder. But Kay is thankful that due to the terrorist’s blood on her knife, a 13-man terror cell was discovered and caught. Kay is determined that, by telling her story somehow something good can come out of it. By sharing her story every day since, helping others to understand the hatred, terrorism and threats that Israel faces, and how her friend Kristine was murdered on the presumption that she was also Jewish, it is Kay’s responsibility to remember Kristine, and to be sure that she is not forgotten.
There have been many American victims of Palestinian Arab terrorism, Jews and non-Jews. Because Kristine was a Christian who cared about and loved the Jewish people and Israel, her story is sad for sure, but inspirational nonetheless. It’s an affirmation that Jews and Christians need to stand together.
Kay is proud to encourage people to join Heart to Heart to save others, as an affirmation of the life that she was given while mourning for the loss of her friend. Fittingly, Kristine’s own family has joined Heart to Heart as well. We can’t bring her back, but together we can always be sure that anyone else in need is helped, whether a victim of a terror attack, or a heart attack.
Please see and share Kay’s story at savinglivesinisrael.org.
Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He writes a regular column for Charisma magazine’s Standing With Israel. You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org.