Marina Cemaj
Marina Cemaj

Remember My Friend

“Why are they crying?” I asked.

“Someone from home was shot in a terrorist attack”

“He was from Boston.” I didn’t know anybody from Boston. I texted my mom, a tragic death. It was awful, an eighteen-year-old boy shot.

“He was so loved by the Boston community.”

“Did you know him personally?” I asked my friend in an attempt to comfort him.

“Yes,” he said. That second, I looked down at my phone, I had a Facebook notification. My staff from my summer on USY on Wheels posted on the page for the first time in months. “Ezra Schwartz.”

“It was Ezra Schwartz?!?” I flipped out.

“Yes,” he answered.

Ezra Schwartz. The name changed everything. He was no longer a tragic notification on my phone. He was not just another cry for justice. Ezra was a person I knew. In that one second, all my memories of Ezra came back to me.

I remember him drinking Mountain Dew. I remember him sitting on the back of the bus. I remember all the times he got in trouble. I remember our talk in Albuquerque. I remember his jokes on the bus. I remember his smiles. I remember the summer I spent with him. Above all, I remember him.

My Facebook blew up, in mid tears I was still refreshing. My news feed talked about the tragedy: he was so young, he was American, he was on a gap year. And it all led to: the injustice has to end. The attacks on the State of Israel have to end. The double standards, the call against the attack on Paris, but the silence in this situation, all of that has to end.

Ezra was coming back from volunteering when he was shot. He was volunteering. He was doing something amazing, like always. He was being amazing. Ezra was kind, and caring, and funny, and just a wonderful person. He was in Israel for the year of a lifetime. He was in Gush Etzion just volunteering. And now he’s gone.

So I’m going to stand up. Because this cannot happen anymore. Because no more innocent lives can be taken from us, and I hate that it took someone we knew to realize that. I hate that it got personal. I hate that after four weeks, I’m still not allowed back to the Old City. I hate that people are still scared. I hate that nobody in the news says anything about it. I hate that this is not the end. I hate that what so many people want is just peace and peace seems so hard.

If you remember Ezra by anything, remember that this terror is not that far from us. Remember that this can hit close to home, and remember that we must stop that from ever happening again. But above all, remember that Ezra was just a person. A good person. A person who was doing good things until the very last moment.

Remember that Ezra was my friend.

About the Author
Marina Cemaj is currently on Nativ 35, a gap year program in Israel.
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