Today our kids came home. Some in boxes, others on stretchers, and still others walked off the plane. But the scars in their heads will last a lifetime.
All for the simple fact of having an Israeli identity.
As a nation we have already begun the mourning process. You can hear it in the outrage, in the disbelief, in the confusion and the pain. We have not yet tapped into the sadness — but that, too, will come.
As a friend of mine and I were working on a project for Shabbat last night, we selected some readings for this week, and opted to include Yehudah Amichai’s “Diameter of a Bomb:”
The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
And the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
With four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
Of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
And one graveyard. But the young woman
Who was buried in the city she came from,
At a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
Enlarges the circle considerably,
And the solitary man mourning her death
At the distant shores of a country far across the sea
Includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans
That reaches up to the throne of God and beyond, making
A circle with no end and no God.
— (Translated by Chana Bloch)
The last time I was asked to read this was at a memorial ceremony for friends who were killed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in another bombing, nearly 10 years ago to the day. It was as poignant then as it is now. But this time, it’s a little different — because I’m Israeli.
A friend, Jen Maidenberg, wrote in a blog post last night, “When I saw the headline, I felt in my gut like I narrowly missed a personal tragedy. And yet, that somehow the tragedy still belongs to me.”
We are in the weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av, a day on which both temples were destroyed and other terrible events took place. This period in the Jewish calendar marks a time of national morning, as if all of Israel and the Jewish people are in a collective state of a sharp intake of breath. Painfully aware of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Once Tisha B’Av comes, and then goes, we can exhale, and release. Only then can we be begin to prepare for the new year that awaits just beyond the bend.
But in the meantime, we must survive this period. We must pray for the families, and our country, and pledge to ensure that hatred does not breed more hatred, and band together to support one-another through these difficult times.
May the victims’ memories be for a blessing.