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Close to home…

He was supposed to be at the synagogue where the massacre took place; he don't go, but his father did

Six fifteen: riiiing riiiing, it’s my alarm clock. I have to get up, if I want to get to work on time, synagogue is in just ten minutes! I roll over.

6:25 riiing riiing riiiiiiing, my alarm clock again, it snoozes every 10 minutes. I’m too tired I roll over, there’s another one at 7:00. No big deal.

6:35 riiing…

6:45 riiing…

6:55 riii… Wait. Something else. Something a little louder. Bang! Bang! Bang! Gunshots? Can’t be! It’s a quiet little neighborhood, something must have fallen. I can hear my dad waking the kids in the next room. I roll over.

Bang! Bang!

I sit upright! I turn around I look out the window, everything is quiet, peaceful. Wait! One second! Someone’s leaving the synagogue, the place I was supposed to be, the place I was supposed to pray.

Yelling! A commotion! “Call the police!” “An attack!” “They have guns!” What the heck!

Someone else comes out, from the synagogue, from the place I was supposed to be, praying. He’s covered in blood. Wait! I know that guy! It’s Shmuel! A neighbor, from down the block.

I run downstairs, looking for my father. Where is he? I just heard him a second ago!

Knock, knock. I open the door. I see my mother, my father is nowhere to be seen. “There was an attack, across the street. Where’s Tatty?” I ask.

“He went to pray…” She says calmly. Then she looks at me. Realization dawns. Silently, she follows me, to the kitchen. We look out the window. The cops have arrived!

“He went to pray…” She repeats, under her breath. Then the quiet sobbing starts.

Riiiiing, riiing… The phone. It’s not him. He didn’t take his phone with him. He never takes his phone with him!

My siblings. They start coming down the stairs. Wondering, wondering what’s happening. “Pray” I tell them “Take a psalms and pray!”

Riiing, riiing… It’s not him. Riiing… It’s not him!

They’re all sitting there, my siblings, around the table. Praying, with their psalms and praying.

Riiiing… This time it’s him. He’s down the block. He’s Ok.

He could have been there but he was not! He’s alive!

I should have been there but I was not! I’m alive!

How could this happen? It’s a peaceful neighborhood, a quiet peaceful neighborhood. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?!

8 Agasi, Har-Nof, Jerusalem.

About the Author
Born and raised in Chicago until the age of eight, Yaakov made aliyah in 1997. Since then he has lived most of his life in Israel with a brief stint in the states to complete High-School and gain his Bachelors degree. Upon his return to Israel Yaakov joined the Netzach Yehuda battalion of the IDF where he served three years as a field medic. He now studies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan.