The Synagogue

I live down the street from the synagogue in Har Nof where the horrific terrorist attack of November 18th 2014 left 5 men dead, 5 women widows, and more than 20 children orphans. People I knew, good people, unsuspecting innocent people who were only trying to call to their maker on a quiet morning in a quiet town. It’s so close to me but I had unknowingly been avoiding passing by it, for fear of harsh memories I suppose. It looks the same, bullet holes intact, stone just as white as before, no trace of red. Finally we met again…

There you are,

sparkling in your Jerusalem stone glory.

As you always were.

As you always will be.

We haven’t met in a while but I think about you from time to time.

Sometimes I swear I can hear you crying from here.

But you look strong!

You look, settled.

And then I see the holes.

The destruction of your body, the violation.

They left them there, these holes.

I understand why, to remember.

As if we could ever forget.

I suppose there is a dulling effect.

But standing here facing your scars I can feel my wounds being torn open again,

tearing with such ease,

proving that the patchwork I’ve slapped together is so incredibly amateur.

But it was the best I could do under the vicious circumstances.


Across the street there is a delivery truck dropping off groceries,

the drivers are clearly arab.

I watched them get into their car, looking at me, and I’m staring back.

I feel, protective.

Like a mother bear protecting her cubs my instincts step in and I stare them down.

Are they looking at your glory with regret or do they feel a sense of pride when they see your holes?

I want to scream, don’t you dare look at her that way!

Is that a smirk I see?

I feel my fists clenching.

But, maybe they’re just doing their jobs and couldn’t care less what’s across the street.


Don’t let the world make you cold kid.

But it’s cold outside.

And right now it’s cold inside.

And I’ve seen so much in my short years.

And every once in a while it’s hard to filter out the bad and hold on to the good just a little bit longer

And –

And you’re crying to me now.

And I’m interrupted from my fake display of toughness.

And I’m interrupted from the sound of the tracks of my runaway train thoughts,

and I’m brought back to your holes.

I’m sure I’m hiding the chaos going on inside but you, I can see right through you, literally, unfortunately.

And I can see that people are setting up inside for some sort of happy occasion.

You are moving on,

Why can’t I?

You are warm and inviting and people are dancing and praying and loving just the same inside your otherwise safe walls.

So why do I feel like I need to protect you?

Maybe I need you to protect me.

I am spiraling.

I’m reminded that this street holds widows.

That this neighborhood holds far too many orphans from a time when your sparkling stone was painted and tainted red.

I remember standing in front of you and hearing hundreds upon hundreds cry.

I remember the abhorrent sound of a child saying the prayer for the dead for his lost father.

A child.

It was cold then too, but I was on fire.

I felt my insides burn that of loss and of pain and disbelief.

Shock burns.

Betrayal burns.

Fear burns.

Settling, dull pain, acceptance,

they cool.

I remember the fire but I am cold inside.

I’m not sure which is worse.

I would gladly trade them both for before.

But life doesn’t work that way.

There is no before.

There is only the burn.

And then there is only the cold.

And then there is what we chose to let fill us next.

About the Author
Born and raised in sunny California, Reena Bracha traded in her beach attire for the slightly more modest approach of orthodox Judaism. Her first love is Israel and her second, her ukulele. She recently made Aliyah and currently lives in Jerusalem.
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