I thought long and hard about how to start off my first blog post for The Times of Israel. In the last week we saw a return of Israel’s greatest fear, the suicide bomber, strike our citizens far from our borders and from the protective arm of the IDF. It was a moment that Olim like myself often say is what makes one a true Israeli: to frantically call family or friends to see that they are okay and to watch a procession of coffins of your fellow citizens taken to their final resting place.
But I didn’t want to start my first blog post on such a sombre note. Rather, I thought that I would start it on the small rays of hope that show there is true good in this world. On the day that Israeli citizens vacationing in Bulgaria were tragically struck down we saw, for a brief moment, a world that once again remembered the pain and suffering of Jews being forced to collect the scattered remains of their dead. We saw global condemnation for the attack and sympathy pour in from countries that we had long stopped talking to. But we also saw another glimmer of hope in the way that Bulgaria stepped up and helped the injured Israelis as much as possible. There is no denying, that if other nations experienced a terror attack like the one that occurred in Bulgaria, they would immediately rush to help its victims, but in Burgas we saw something different.
Bulgarian MP Kalina Krumova, the youngest Member of Parliament, ran to the hospital to help as many people as possible. Multiple witnesses claim that Krumova was up all night ensuring that the victims of this brutal attack were well taken care of. Gabi Barbash, head of the Israeli rescue mission, credited her selfless act and her critical role of a translator by saying, “without her, we would have been deaf and dumb”, high praise from someone who has seen unspeakable disasters. When asked why she would perform such an undertaking, Krumova replied simply with “we’re all human beings and terrorism is terrorism. It’s not an Israeli or a Bulgarian problem”. Sentiments like this have been expressed many times in words but few times have they truly been expressed in deeds.
We are currently approaching the end of the Nine Days, which is a time, according to the Talmud, Jews are supposed to ‘reduce our joy’ and recognize the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people since our inception. The Nine Days are considered a time fraught with danger and based on historical precedence, not just that of the past week, there is some accuracy to those claims. But once again there is a ray of hope within this dark period. Yishai Fleisher, a broadcast journalist and star of ‘Eye on Zion with Yishai Fleisher’, has embarked on a campaign called ‘’40 Days 4 Israel: Caleb’s Challenge’ for people to ‘refrain from negative portrayals of the land or the life in Israel…defamatory speech about Israel…and stress the positive’. Fleisher is yet another story of a ray of hope within dark times.
As a secular Jew I have often found bible myths and stories to be just that. If there is an accident or a pigua (terror attack) during that time I simply state that it is a coincidence. Yet even the most secular of us can’t help but smile at Fleisher’s take on life. His ‘challenge‘ to the people, to accentuate the positive of everything around them, should be adopted by as many people regardless of race, religion or creed.
So this is how this blog post will start. To look at the positive aspects of life and to not dwell on the more tragic times. I know that it seems that another war might be starting at a moments notice but for now let us reflect on the hope that stems from darkness and relish the scores of nameless good people among us.