As I approached Zion Square, I could feel the wave of mourning that had crashed upon Jerusalem. I could feel it as it flooded the city, filled every home and broke every heart. It pulsed from the center of town, as Jerusalem’s people raised their voices in song, united in their grief.

When I arrived at Zion Square, I saw a dozen Israeli flags waving somberly in night’s gentle wind. People had gathered in a circle and their voices rose in anger, sadness, and grief as their songs floated into the night, begging the question “Why?” That one word hung in the air above us: “why?”

An Israeli flag waves over Zion Square.

Photo Credit: Ariela Rossberg

I lit my candle and felt the weight of a nation in mourning in my hand. My one flame flickered angrily in the wind, beating it’s chest and calling out to the heavens.  I could barely see through the crowd, but when I was finally able to get close enough, I saw that it’s heart beat to the tune of a solo violin, and was lit by hundreds of flames. The weight of a nation in mourning had spread from one wick to the next, and the only thing we could do was come together to hold each other up.

As my candle melted, hot wax dripped down my hands. I barely noticed. Even the flames were weeping, and my shoes are now spattered with it’s tears. I felt so much last night as I stood among the weeping, but I cannot make sense of this tragedy. It angers me, saddens me, and confuses me all at once. How strange, that all the world’s suffering is inflicted by man, upon man. Nigeria’s girls are still missing, civil war ravages Syria, Ukraine continues to fight, hunger growls it’s empty stomach, and poverty leaves countless numbers on the streets.

Peace will come when all of humanity can remember that we are all of humanity. Last night I wept for the boys. I wept for the havoc that man can wreak, and for all those who suffer. But as I stood among Israelis, I began to understand what it means to live here. We are family, and we are all our Brother’s Keeper. And as I write, I begin to understand what it means to live here. We are all family–all of us.

Photo Credit: Ariela Rossberg