I lay bound and gagged, staring at the autumn skies. In those moments, which I believed were to be my last, I looked at the sun obscured by a man’s hand wielding a machete. G-d who made the sun, G-d who made that man, beauty and the beast, savagery and sanctity. I heard a divine chorus, a celestial composition. It was a symphony of the three monotheistic creeds. Thirteen times they plunged their machetes into us to the blood-curdling crescendo of Allahu Akbar, Kristine screaming “Jesus” and my own whimpering of Shema Israel.

Within thirty minutes, all I had ever known had been plundered and was lost forever. It was a personal Horban Bayit, a microcosm of the Destruction of the Temple.

My friend was destroyed.

My health was destroyed.

My ability to work was destroyed and so was the dignity that comes providing for myself.

My independence was destroyed.

My income was destroyed.

My appetite was destroyed.

My pain-free existence was destroyed.

My sleep was destroyed.

My routine was destroyed.

My solace of being alone was destroyed.

My luxury of engaging in the mundane was destroyed.

My hope of ever being truly understood by another was destroyed.

My anonymity was destroyed.

My humanity was destroyed.

My innocence was destroyed.

My sense of security was destroyed.

My reputation was destroyed.

The knife tore through my flesh and shredded all that I had – everything, that is, except for “me.”

I am me. I am not an observant Jew because I do not have the desire to refrain from driving to the beach on Shabbat. I live with the reality of the uncertainty that I may not be alive to hear the sound of waves on Sunday. I deplore the hate speech emerging from some elements of this community towards those who think differently.

I am me. I am not a Christian because nothing in me wanted to go to heaven. I wanted to live. I am of the conviction that it is immoral to forgive the sons of evil who have shown neither remorse or restitution and that it is also inappropriate to forgive their sins which are not just mine to forgive. I deplore the hate speech emerging from some elements of this community towards those who think differently.

I am me. I am not a Messianic Jew because certainties pertaining to the lofty matters of salvation and the World to Come, for me – at least – are unknown and remain a matter of mystery. I envy those who have an inner assurance of the things I myself did not experience at the moment of death. I deplore the hate speech emerging from some elements of this community towards those who think differently.

I am me. I am not a secular Jew. I am unable to see that we are solely People of the Land and not People of the Book. I am unable to embrace an ideology that does not acknowledge the miraculous nature of the gathering of exiles to the Land of Israel after 2000 years. I deplore the hate speech emerging from some elements of this community towards those who think differently.

I am me. I am not an atheist Jew. If I blame G-d for the destruction brought upon my life, then I must also accuse him for my daily redemption. If I impeach Him for death then I must indict Him for life. I deplore the hate speech emerging from some elements of this community towards those who think differently.

I am me. I am not a right-wing Jew. Every single election I have voted for somebody different. I deplore the hate speech emerging from some elements of this community towards those who think differently.

I am me. I am not a left-wing Jew. Every single election I have voted for somebody different. I deplore the hate speech emerging from some elements of this community towards those who think differently.

I am me. I am not a subjugated Jew. I live in a moral democracy that is not supposed to have the tyranny of the Thought Police. I am therefore free to think what I want and am at liberty to contend with those who have different opinions. I will always try to contest with dignity, without vilification, gossip and hate speech towards those who are not my clones. I deplore the hate speech emerging from some people in this democracy towards those who think differently.

I have no desire to define myself by what I am not. To do as such is to inadvertently stir hatred towards those who are not like me. I have not done that with the Muslim community, which emerged the murderers, so I will certainly not do it with any other group or individual no matter who they are or why I disagree with their choices and way of life.

I am me; a Jew, yet first and foremost a human-being who has eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; I am fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as any other human-being. If you prick me, I also bleed. I am a human-being who four years ago aged decades in thirty minutes in a forest in Israel. I am a human being who was prematurely awarded insights that belong to those who have suffered and know the fragility of life and its priorities.

I am an imperfect human being who believes with an imperfect faith that faith is the freedom to look to Heaven and say “I don’t understand.”

I believe with an imperfect faith that the question is not “why” did this happen to me, but rather “how” can I incorporate this grisly event into the rhythm of my life in a manner that guards me from becoming like those who tried to murder me.

I believe with an imperfect faith in a G-d of justice who has promised that vengeance is His.

I believe with an imperfect faith that life can suddenly change course.

I believe with an imperfect faith that what I think today may not be what I think in years to come.

I believe with an imperfect faith that I am not able to squeeze what happened to me into a tidy philosophical box and seal it with “closure.”

I believe with an imperfect faith that waking up every day in mental and physical pain is better than not waking up at all.

I believe with an imperfect faith in the importance of making a phone call, just to hear someone’s voice.

I believe with an imperfect faith that life is rushing outside when it starts to rain.

I believe with an imperfect faith that life is a cold shower on a hot day and a hot coffee on a cold night.

I believe with an imperfect faith that life is shaking the sand from my shoes and scraping the mud from my boots.

I believe with an imperfect faith that life is making someone giggle.

I believe with an imperfect faith in acknowledging the future but living in the present.

I believe with an imperfect faith in accepting the past but embracing the now.

I believe with an imperfect faith that life is too short to bear a grudge.

I believe with an imperfect faith that I should help those of a different culture, creed and colour.

I believe with an imperfect faith that people are always more precious than time.

I believe with an imperfect faith in living my life with gratitude.

I believe with an imperfect faith that every single moment is a miracle.

I believe with an imperfect faith that my broken and battered body serves both as a testimony and also a warning, of where hate speech can lead.