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A time to mourn

Have we Israelis become so good at moving past the pain of terror attacks that we missed the loss of 4 entire worlds?

“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3)

The usual Friday morning rush to get the kids to school on time. Three little ones, in the back seat, with their white t-shirts, garlands of flowers on their heads, holding on tight to their wicker baskets filled with fruits on their laps. U2’s, ‘It’s a Beautiful Day,’ starts playing on the radio.

“Yom nehedar!” translates the littlest one and I look out the window and indeed, it is a crisp Jerusalem morning, puffy white clouds on the blue horizon over the Judean desert, purple lavender bushes swaying by the side of the road — it is a beautiful day. And then, out of nowhere, it hits me.

Tears start rolling down my cheeks behind my sunglasses.

I suddenly find myself thinking of the father who won’t be lining up his two children next to the front door to take a picture of them dressed for the Shavuot ceremony at school; the mother who won’t be there to braid her four daughters’ hair just the way they like; the fiancé who won’t gaze lovingly at his bride-to-be in her white dress at the festive meal, while dreaming of the white dress she would wear under the chupah; the professor who won’t be marking his students’ papers over the weekend, while enjoying the cheesecake and tea that were thoughtfully placed on his desk.

In Judaism, a person who saves one life saves an entire world, and when one life is taken, an entire world disappears. On Wednesday night, four entire worlds were ripped apart by the bullets of evil.

Yesterday, I was there, at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv. The place was abuzz with activity: politicians, media, camera crews, office workers. The amazing Australian ambassador brought his entire staff down to eat lunch as an act of solidarity. Young people were giving out stickers to passers-by. One guy went into the Max Brenner store and bought hundreds of chocolates, handing them out in pairs to the crowd, asking them to enjoy one and to share the other with a stranger. There were memorial candles, school-kids sitting in a circle singing patriotic songs.

The Max Brenner store at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, yesterday. (Courtesy)

It was exciting, even invigorating to be there. This is my Israel that comes together in hard times, that doesn’t let terror terrorize, that is resilient and gets on with life.

It wasn’t until this morning, when I saw all the kids arriving at school, so cute, dressed up for their Shavuot ceremonies, that it hit me: maybe we have become too good at overcoming and moving on.

Maybe we have forgotten that there is a time to mourn?

In our rush to get on with our lives and show our victory over terror’s evil aims, to return to Sarona and sit outside in the hot Tel Aviv afternoon air with our ice coffees, maybe we forgot to learn the names of the victims, to think of their families and of the dozens who will be scarred for life from the traumas of last Wednesday evening. Maybe in our anger and horror at the attack, we forgot to cry for the orphans whose parents did not return from a night out, for the parents whose children won’t be there to bring their grandchildren to Shabbat dinner, for the lovers whose plans for the future exploded with each bullet fired.

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Lilypad pond at the Sarona Market complex. (Courtesy)

Yes, there is a time to laugh and sing, to eat and make merry, to show that we can get on with our lives and with building our country and our future, despite those who plot against us. There is a time for beautiful days. But today, as the victims are buried before Shabbat comes in, we need not to forget that there is also a time to stop and to weep, a time to mourn; for this week, we lost four entire worlds.

About the Author
Rachael Risby-Raz is the International Relations Manager of the Tisch Family Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem and a former Diaspora Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel.
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