April 15th, 2013 began like a normal day. I was up early, heading to Newton, MA to babysit John and Sydney. Newton was out of the way from Boston and with the Boston Marathon happening later on in the day, I braced myself for a longer commute. I arrived to the house early, received a Happy Birthday text from Cassie’s mother, Brenda, and went about my day with the kids.
When lunchtime was over, it was time to put John and Sydney down for their naps. I had only babysat for the two of them once before and had only managed to get Sydney down the last time. She went to sleep easily, so I went to try and get John to go to sleep. As I sat on John’s bed, he randomly said to me, “I want to be 25.” I scoffed, took a deep breath and said, “You don’t want to be a grown-up. I turn 24 today. There is nothing good about being a grown-up. There are many mean grown-ups in the world and it’s not fair that you will have to deal with them someday. Please stay a kid. I wish I had listened to people who told me to be a kid.” John, to my surprise, went to sleep. I left his room, responded to my birthday texts and read a medical book that I found on the bookshelf.
Two hours later, the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon.
No matter how loud my phone is, I never seem to hear it ring. I missed my father calling me, so he left me a voicemail. He asked where I was, told me there was an explosion at the Marathon and that he loved me. I know my father loves me, but the tone in his voice said that this explosion was much more serious than I had thought; I figured it was a gas leak or something of the sort. I wasn’t able to call my father, but I did text him to say I was babysitting in Newton, far away from Copley Square. I hate crowds, so I wouldn’t have been anywhere near the Marathon, even if I didn’t have to work that day. Not having WiFi, I went onto the desktop in the house. The news reports began saying that the explosion was a bomb. I couldn’t believe it. A bomb in Boston? I was used to the reports about stabbings and gun deaths, but a bomb? It was unfathomable.
My phone began getting texts from some friends from college, my boss and the mother of two of the kids I babysat for regularly. I remember getting a text from my sister asking where I was. I told her I was fine and that now our father couldn’t say Israel was a dangerous place anymore. And even though my father may not always agree with me being here, since last year’s bombings in Boston, he has never once said anything about my safety here. I actually find it safer here because Israel, unfortunately, knows how to deal with bombings.
Boston, the resilient city that she is, persevered through the pain. She reigns of Boston Strong. I was incredibly proud of my city for staying calm, the response of the medical and city workers and of the regular people. And while they all deserve praise, Israel deserves praise for her assistance during that traumatic week in Boston because no one will talk about the good that Israel does.
But I will.
Many of the doctors who saved so many lives were trained by Israeli doctors. The Israeli doctors, who have seen casualties during various suicide attacks committed against other Israelis, were used to dealing with mangled limbs. Their experience with this trauma allowed the doctors in Boston to save as many of the mangled limbs that they could. Israel sent their police to help. Israel sent in trauma specialists to talk to the children. Israel didn’t have to do this. Israel doesn’t have to offer any of the help that she offers during natural or terroristic events, but she does. I wouldn’t ask Boston to showcase the help that Israel offered during her tragedy because Israel never demanded recognition. But Israel’s assistance–the only country that offered anything besides a condolence–should not go unnoticed. Even though I had already been accepted to the Israel Teaching Fellows program at the time, this event furthered my cause to come here and pay Israel back. She helped my city when no other country did.
I’ve talked to many Israelis here who had no idea that Israel sent assistance to Boston last year. I always thought it was one thing when America or other countries never recognized her and the good she has done, but for Israel’s own people to not realize what she had done? That surprised me. But maybe it shouldn’t, because Israelis help other countries, including their enemy countries, without asking for praise. They do it because it’s in their hearts.
Boston, the sister city of Haifa, has maintained a good relationship with Israel, prior to last year’s bombings. I remember on Birthright when my group went to Haifa to help the Ethiopian children with English and how we were told about the Boston-Haifa connection. Boston and Israel together are a delight to watch. They are a near impossibility to photograph.
But they are both so, so loved.
As I sit in this hotel in Tel Aviv with Cassie and Paul, celebrating my 25th birthday during the week of Passover, I think about my home city of Boston, my current city of Netanya and how Israel is all around me. I am thankful that she was there for my city and I hope she knows how much I appreciate her. I am proud of my home city for her strength. But I will always be proud of Israel for her assistance during my city’s tragedy and know that the next time another country deals with a setback, from nature or otherwise, that Israel won’t be far behind with open arms, asking what she can do.