The 11th Floor

A Perpsective Overlooking Jerusalem, Israeli Life, and Talmud Torah

Thursday, March 06, 2008

We're okay... but we're not okay.

Jerusalem has been safe and quiet, terrorism-wise, since before we arrived nearly two years ago. In that time there have been no shootings, stabbings, or bombings. Tonight that changed.

We still don't know how many students were murdered at the dining hall of the Merkaz Ha'rav Yeshiva, but this was not a small attack in Eilat or far way Dimona that we could ingore. Those, we could say "were close to the border." They were "just a slip of security- they got lucky." Tonight was not such an event.

This was a planned event. The Yeshiva was scouted out, targeted, and attacked. The murdered boys and men were trapped in a library with only one entrance- many tried to escape from windows- they didn't have a chance. These were students, not so different than the students at my Yeshiva. And yes, it could have been us, however a far less likely target we are. We also are Jewish students, studying Talmud, preparing for Puirm, and not so far from East Jerusalem.

( I just heard- My Couisin was on her way to deliver a weekly torah portion brochure to Merkaz Harav as the shooting started. She was only a block away when she stopped, having heard the huge number of sirens coming her way. )

I'm not angry or scared as much as I am horribly sad. These victims were young men getting ready for Purim, entering a season of joy and celebration- and always with a good dose of silliness. They were part of a community of people who delighted in learning and had spent months learning and growing together. All of that has been ruined, and families have been destroyed.

And with the tensions between Jew and Arab so high in Israel as it is, this act by man from East Jerusalem has made the lives of law-abiding Arab Israelis even more bitter. Come tomorrow Arabs who are good Israeli citizens will find their daily lives filled with more hassles, more angry glances, more discrimination. The terrorists claimed lives and destroyed chances for peace and co-existence all at the same time.

Yes, Hamas and its ilk are celebrating in Gaza, handing out candy to kids. That's obscene, but the thugs who run Gaza want children who celebrate death more than they do life, and those are the people we expect to try and commit these acts. But this was a resident of East Jerusalem. The consequences of that fact will continue to affect events in the days and months to come. For now, though, on the eve of Judaism's season of parody, costumes, humor and celebration- this month of Adar- the city is wounded and bleeding. We are okay- but we are not okay.

That's life in Jerusalem for now. That's why we have to pray and work to change it- but that change, that peace, has so very many enemies. . . .

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