Last Sunday, there was a terrorist attack in my neighborhood, Armon Hanatziv. I knew because my friend, a mother of four, called me crying saying she had been driving and there were so many sirens and they were all heading towards our neighborhood. A normally calm friend (normally, I am jealous of just how calm and together and go with the flow she is) said it was the PTSD from last year’s attack.
The attack in October 2015, a shooting and stabbing on our neighborhood’s bus. One minute from our children’s school. I could hear the gunshots. I could hear myself screaming. To no one. I could hear the whatsapp messages, spreading rumors, that there was a bomb in the community center, there was a hijacking, there was…and then the truth, just as bad. Terror. Murder.
And then again throughout the year.
And now, one week later, the most recent terrorist attack in our neighborhood.
The numbers. How many attacks? How many more? How many injured? How many murdered? How many more will suffer? How many reporters will cover this? How many headlines will just cover it…bury those that died, with their titles that skew the truth just enough to make it less eventful or important for the reader? How many politicians will arrive, speech in hand? How many will care? How long will it go on for?
And how will I play my part, and do more than just sit by asking questions, fuming in my own anger, drowning in my own tears?
So I got up. First, I went to the attack. But there I collapsed. I couldn’t bare to watch the bodies stuck under the truck. The most beautiful views of Jerusalem, destroyed with murder, hate, and death. I got up, so I could talk to the press and try to give them the full story. I got up so I could pick up my children. So they could fight in the car about rolling down the window and watch mommy freak out about cold air (when mommy is freaking out about everything I just wrote and also what to make for dinner, and I forgot to eat, and who can eat when people are dead and…). I got up so I could get others to get up.
The day after the attack I walked over to the site again where they were already building a barrier…further destroying the views, with fences, tractors, and sounds of more destruction. But it didn’t matter because no one was there. Probably the tour groups had already canceled. Just a few reporters disappointed with the calm and lack of actual story, just leftovers and scraps for them to write about.
And there were a few flowers. But nothing else to remember those who had died here. That was not enough. And my friends and community agreed. We would need to do something. So we decided to have a memorial ceremony. Friday, just a few days away. We wanted to remember the dead, and to bring people together for our future. Don’t give up on us, because we are not giving up on us. I wanted something to visually express this. And that’s when I thought about Artists4Israel, that create artwork to encourage creation where there is destruction. I contacted Craig Dershowitz, the founder of the organization, and he was all in. Then I turned to my friends who gave me the strength to make this happen, when I thought it was impossible. Within two hours we had raised the funds for the materials for the mural. We had enough to even put funds towards our soldier food contribution (we as a community bring the soldiers in our neighborhood food, coffee, etc. on a weekly basis).
With the help of our community center, and especially Forum Tizirim (Young People’s Forum), we created a memorial sponsored by Tag Meir (a group that creates events for all terrorist attack memorials). The incredible artists, donated their time, talents and energy to make this mural happen. I learned a lot of random Hebrew words, and that I know nothing about how the art world works. I also learned that the head artist that day is a soldier himself from my neighborhood.
The event was incredible. StandWithUs came and live streamed, bringing 20,000 people to our world, our moment, our lives. The residents were captured by the art, the music, the beauty of the place. It was all still there, despite standing at the site of a terrorist attack. The kids got to paint, and while some were too young to understand what the message of the day was, they understood we are here together, always.
The mural stated: “There should be peace within your borders, serenity in your palaces.” From the book of Pslams. In hebrew palace is Armon, which made this quote even more important for us as a neighborhood (Armon Hanatziv). The event ended. The mural was created. Including the names of the four young soldiers murdered there. And it was placed at the work site of the new barrier. I was paranoid that it would somehow be defaced so I have checked on it about six times…a day. If you drive by you can see and be inspired and know that we are here. This is our home.
One week. One more attack. One home. One road to take. The one with the mural hanging as you drive by. The one with the site of a terrorist attack that you can see in your rearview mirror. The one with the spectacular views of the Old City straight ahead. The one road we will create together. One day.
Infinite opportunities. Infinite possibilities. Weddings, with chuppahs overlooking the city walls. Concerts with dancing outside on hot summer nights. Festivals crowding the promenade. Flying kites in the wind off the valley below. Picnics on Shabbat. Segway tours. Archaeological walks along the ancient aqueducts below ground. Flash mobs. Filming TV shows. Couples sharing a first kiss. Old friends acting young. Infinite. That’s the number we are going with.