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Monkeys, a car accident, and my 28th birthday

When breaking the rules means a monkey might die, there's no way we're going to risk it; who would?
Illustrative. Monkeys, from the Monkey Park or Sanctuary (Miklat HaKofim HaYisraeli, https://www.ipsf.org.il/).
Illustrative. Monkeys, from the Monkey Park or Sanctuary (Miklat HaKofim HaYisraeli, https://www.ipsf.org.il/).

Yesterday, I saw a man die in the most awful way.

He jumped over the barrier on Highway 1, and ran straight into the road. He ran right in front of my car (left lane) and I honked like crazy. The bus (middle lane) swerved into my lane almost hitting me, in order to avoid hitting him. The white car (right lane) had no chance of seeing this man because the bus had blocked his vision… Boom.

Just like in an action-packed movie that I never ever watch. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it was so so bad. And just like that. This man’s life was over, and ours will never be the same.

Photo taken two hours after the accident, by my mother, Naava Pasternak Swirsky on their way to Modiin. The car that hit him was still there, with the whole front completely smashed in.

It is amazing how we are able to distance ourselves from the daily news: another car accident, another person drowned, another terrorist attack… OK, maybe not really distance ourselves, but we are very good at “the show must go on-ing.” I get these notifications on an hourly basis. As a resident of Gush Etzion, I also have the pleasure of getting the hourly updates about rock throwing and Molotov cocktails — yay. But then it happened right in front of me. Worse, it happened right in front of my two children, and I am completely devastated.

We spent the morning at the Monkey Park in the Ben Shemen area. After seeing several online reviews, it seemed like a good place to take my own two little monkeys. When we arrived, the monkey lady (I hope that’s her title because that’s what I named her) spoke quite angrily over her portable loud speaker and said, “Don’t feed the monkeys and don’t touch the monkeys! If you feed them, they can get sick and die, and if you touch them they can get sick and die.” What a lovely way to start our tour right? But just to make sure, I turned to my 3-year-old and asked him,”So what are we not going to do?” and he answered right away, “Don’t feed them and don’t touch them!” Because my boy is a good boy. We all spent the next five minutes hiding all of the matzah, potato chips, vegetables, and other things that only pass as food over Pesach in our backpacks. Only then were we allowed in.

Me and my monkeys at the monkey park

This accident happened right in front of us, on the way home from our fun day out. I am still surprised at how I handled myself right afterwards. I drove slowly to the side, with the bus parking in front of me. My brother, who had been with us, dialed for the police, while the bus driver called the ambulance. I gave the police my account of the events, clear and calm, while telling my children we were all OK. My whole body was shaking. When there was nothing else for us to do, I got back in the driver’s seat and drove home. Focused. Determined. And scared out of my mind.

It has been 24+ hours since the accident and I keep thinking to myself: we all heard the monkey speech and listened. My 3-year-old listened. We got a new rule and we followed it because we understood its importance. But every time I close my eyes, I see him. Jumping onto the highway. Breaking the rules. Breaking the rule every parent teaches every child and repeats over and over and over again. Putting us in danger. Putting the 480 bus in harm’s way. Putting the driver who hit him in an impossible position. This man broke the rules, and it cost him his life.

Today is my birthday. I am 28 years old. A few weeks ago, I gave my husband my celebration instructions: “I want to sleep in, and I want some helium balloons.” It was the absolute best. We woke up at 6:30, he packed up the kids and drove across the way to my in-laws. I went back to bed. I went BACK TO BED! I cherish the simple things in life, and today was just perfect.

Me and my birthday Helium balloons

Yesterday could have ended so differently. As my son keeps saying to me, “Hashem loves us so He keeps us safe, right Ema?” I thank G-d that I am alive to celebrate this day, and every day to come. I thank G-d for keeping my children safe and happy. With all the frustration I have from yesterday’s events, all I want to do is ask you all, please be careful. Pesach is a time to celebrate freedom, and with my Pesach birthday, for me, it has always been a celebration of life. Even more so today.

About the Author
Bazy (pronounces Bah-zee) is the Daughter of Olim from the US. Bazy grew up in Beit Shemesh which they say is just a five minute drive from Israel and is probably part of the reason she can speak in English today. Married +2, she is the proud owner of Busy Bazy, running team building activities while making sure people laugh and smile every day.
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