It Takes a Village

Last night, I dreamed that I was waiting on the side of the road for the bus. It stopped for me. I climbed aboard and stood by the driver. I then announced that I was from the future, and implored them to turn back, that their tiyul was fatally doomed.

Only to wake up to the bitter reality that Thursday, April 26th, did indeed happen, and that 10 of the beautiful children on that bus had already been buried.

A week before, they had been celebrating Israel’s 70th, with their whole lives ahead of them.

As parents, we outsource much of our child-rearing, especially as our kids get older. We put them in the hands of trained experts, believing that these trained experts are exactly that. Because we must, lest we go mad.

And it does indeed “take a village.” But what if the expert in charge of an activity just happens, at least in that moment, to be the village idiot?

The weather forecast was well known all week for that region of Israel, at least for anyone who bothered to properly check, and to have the good sense to err on the side of caution. Even one of the victims expressed her fear of dying the day before the hike.

How tragic that she wasn’t the one in charge, calling the shots.

I am not a nature instructor, I am an English instructor.
And even I know that one never, ever, ever goes hiking in a wadi during a storm.

Don’t get me wrong. I can’t begin to imagine the suffering which the guilty party in this disaster is currently experiencing. If it were me, my self-loathing would be far more punishment than any penalty that the court could inflict. After such criminal negligence, how to ever look at oneself again in the mirror?

Because this is not a terrorist, who targets Israeli children, and who despises life. This is someone who has dedicated his life to molding Israeli children, and who loves life.

But the horrific outcome is identical.

So, along with the rest of this nation, I feel for the suffering of all who were involved in this catastrophe. But mostly, my empathy is for those poor kids, and their anguished friends and families. Because given that we do depend on “the village,” how could they have known that their trust was so utterly misplaced?

How to prevent it from ever happening again? The answer is in an ironclad system, with black and white rules. No institution should be able to take kids on such an outing without vetting from above and beyond. No mechina or similar program can make unilateral decisions of this nature without written, official approval from the Ministry of Education. After all, a democracy depends on a system of checks and balances, and so should a program which caters to our most precious resource: our kids.

Precisely because it “takes a village.”

About the Author
Brynn Olenberg Sugarman was born in New York City. She graduated from SUNY Binghamton with a BA in Creative Writing and from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem with an MA in English Literature. She is the author of "Rebecca's Journey Home," an award-winning children's book. She is also the author of "Midnight at the Taj Mahal," and "Speechless." Brynn lives in Ra'anana with her family, where she teaches English to kids, and writes for them. She is passionate about Israel advocacy, travel, vegetarianism, animal welfare, the environment, archaeology, and children's literature, and is fascinated by the notion of time travel.
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