March 24, 2011
18 Adar II 5771
Yesterday morning Ruby and I were called by our nephew Avi who was on the phone with Tzeira in a beautifully usual phone call between cousins when the terrorist bombing occurred in a place where Ruby, Tzeira and I have often stood. Our nephew told us that Tzeira was fine, working in her office far from the place. It didn't matter that she was well, because my heart rose in my throat, a reaction I have had in the past. It took a little while for my heartbeat to return to normal. It has been a long time since the last terrorist act in Jerusalem. I remember when our children did not want Ruby and me to ride the buses when we lived in Jerusalem on Sabbatical in 2004 because they were prone to attack. Today's Times-Dispatch put this on the last page of section A. The missile and rocket attacks on the major cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon and the mortar attacks on the towns near the Gaza Strip never even made the paper at all. Today's letters-to-the-editor includes one that makes the Fogel family, adult and infant, brutally murdered in their beds, into the perpetrators instead of the victims. Allow me to share several brief reactions and include a moving piece by the head of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, the place where Ruby and I studied and which I most highly encourage collegiates, post-collegiates and others to study there either in person or on line.
The world does not have the highest regard for Jewish blood. It takes it as a matter of course that it will be shed, and no one will shed a tear. There is no denying the enormousness of the tragedy in Japan that calls for world support. But that does not give the world a pass and allow Jewish blood to be splattered with impunity nor deny Jews the right of self defense.
I use the word "Jew" instead of Israeli because the world does not distinguish between them. Those who hate us do so because we are Jews no matter our political stance towards Israel. Those who hate Israel hate us because they no do not separate between faith and nationality. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism and vice versa. Israel and Judaism/Jews is indivisible to them. It should be to us, too.
Nothing that happens could ever deter me from visiting or living in Israel. It is not that one is oblivious to the events. Every security check, every extra security tax, every days' newspapers make sure that no one ever lives in oblivion. Yet it would never interfere, come between my love of the State of Israel and of the people of Israel. They are my family. It is the homeland of the Jewish people. My roots of three thousand, five hundred years is in that soil. I am proud of Tzeira in her choice of aliyah to Israel.
I had prayed, like many, that terrorism was truly thwarted and ended. I fear, like many, that the upheavals in the Arab world would spill over. I hope that the condemnation by the Palestinian Authority will be helpful in avoiding others. I pray that Muslims and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis can show the world a different paradigm, not of killing but of harmony. I would rather be an idealist with my feet on the ground than a cynic with my head in the sand. Times like this just leave me in pain and tears.
Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb, author of the piece below, is the head of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, a most warm, welcoming educational leader, who made our stay in Jerusalem such a rewarding experience. I feel the need to share it with you.
It is 6.5 hours since the bomb went off near busses across from Binyanei Ha'ouma, leaving 1 woman dead and 45 wounded, 2 in critical condition. My wife Ada has not come home yet from Hadassah. Her "emergency" role is as physician in the chadar mishpachot, where families of wounded or of those in search of their loved ones are cared for. When she called an hour ago they were awaiting the arrival of the parents of a 14 year old girl, one of the critically wounded, still in the operating room. Keep Odelia in your prayers.
If I remember correctly, this is the first bus pigua in Jerusalem since 2004 and the first "major" pigua here since the bombing at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in 2008. The period of relative quiet we've had in Jerusalem has ended, no one knows for how long. The tough times in the world (Japan) and the Middle East have not passed Israel by. The terrible murder of the Fogel family at Ithamar, the worrisome heating up of the border with Gaza, and now the bombing today. The world today is not the same as it was three months ago, and the instability of the terrestrial plates, in the sea off Japan and in the Arab shuks, has not come to rest. How things will look in weeks, months, years is anyone's guess; R' Yochanan warns us in BB 12b not to presume that we are prophets.
Today at the Conservative Yeshiva, even though we could hear the police cars and ambulances rushing to the scene, we continued classes. Our general policy is to continue Torah study unless there is an immediate reason not to.
That's consistent with the basic Israeli response to such events, to get back to "normal" as quickly as possible. That is a term I've never understood; after 35 years in Jerusalem I don't know what "normal" life here is. But that's one of the things that makes it so special – the simchas of Jerusalem are like none anywhere else. And, on days like today, neither is the pain.
With prayers for quieter days and better news for all, best, Daniel