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Shopping at the mall

Suddenly the sirens go off -- my heart stops. Where are the kids? The phone beeps: it's real, there's been a stabbing
Scene of the terror attack next to the Gush Etzion Junction, September 16, 2018 (Courtesy)
Scene of the terror attack next to the Gush Etzion Junction, September 16, 2018 (Courtesy)

Just unpacking groceries from a trip to the supermarket this bright Sunday morning. It’s down the block, literally a three minute walk to the mall — a spacious, airy store stocked with everything you could need. We often joke that if they don’t sell it at Rami Levy, you won’t find it in our pantry.

Suddenly the sirens go off — loud, one after the other, relentless. My heart stops. The all-too-familiar police-military-private security cars whiz past our road, while the sirens don’t stop. We know the drill, it’s not practice at all but a very real act of terror. Against our neighbor? friend? Our minds move into action.

Where are your kids — Make a quick accounting of them all. Sit quietly because you don’t want to sound crazy; after all, maybe the ambulance was delivering a birthing mother. Two-three-ambulance sirens, you know it means worse than that, but you don’t want to admit it. And then quiet — back to just the birds chirping.

Now the quiet is interrupted by my phone — beeping away with messages of information, then concern. First from the emergency center with the cold, scary news: This is a real attack. A terrorist stabbed and seriously wounded someone at the mall. Family-friends-neighbors run through my head again. Grab the phone, check in with each other, answer the second round of messages from loved ones asking you to report in that you’re safe. And we are. This time. Thank God.

Back to putting away my groceries, the very ones I just bought at the supermarket — in the mall just down the block — shopping with my daughter on a sunny Sunday morning to start our week. It just doesn’t feel so peaceful anymore. And somehow I have to go back to work.

I can’t stop thinking of the Arab Palestinian woman who checked us out, of our shared recipes, updates on our families, and yes a hug at the end for the new year — how will we make sure that our children do not turn to blind hatred. And then to the video of this 17-year-old taking out a knife and stabbing a man in cold blood. Photos of my friends at the scene, ‘neutralizing’ the terrorist and trying to save the wounded Jew.

While writing this, he has just died from his wounds.

How do we protect our Jewish homes and families from the hate that threatens to explode the beautiful lives that we share with all of our neighbors, at our Israeli cafes, our stores — our Israeli mall? And how do we keep doing the things we do, just shopping at the local supermarket?

About the Author
Ruth Lieberman is an Israeli-based political consultant and licensed tour guide, combining her love of Israel with political acumen to better Israel's standing both at home and in the eyes of the world. She has consulted for political leaders in Jerusalem and in Washington, from work on election campaigns to public advocacy and events. Her tours in Israel connect Biblical history to modern realities, to highlight Israel's achievements and promote its policies.
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