April 17, 2013

My heart is in Boston.

On Monday evening Itzik and I went out for dinner with friends to a lovely Italian restaurant to celebrate  Israel’s Independence Day. Libbie and her husband Tzahi joined us and we all made merry. That is, until Libbie and I received news alerts on our phone about the Boston Bombing. Libbie and I met (and fell in love) in Boston, and we both immediately began scouring the interwebs for information about what happened, and for word from our friends and families there. I had been following updates all day from friends of mine who were in Boston to run the marathon, and when I heard about two bombs detonating near the finish line I felt my heart drop into my stomach. The rest of my evening was spent making calls and checking Facebook in an effort to account for anyone who may have been downtown that day (thankfully, most of my friends in Boston usually avoid the shitshow that is downtown Boston on Marathon Monday) and I was grateful to learn quickly that my loved ones were safe.

It is hard to put into words the feelings I experienced after learning about this. Confused. Sad. Scared. Homesick. Sick. Worried. When I lived in Boston and followed Israeli news (esp after Libbie moved to Tel Aviv) it was always upsetting to learn about terrorism happening here. But it was never altogether surprising. It is, after all, the Middle East. These things have a context here. That context never mitigates the horror and sadness of terrorism, but there’s a frame of reference and usually there’s never any doubt about the motive. 

When it comes to Monday’s events in Boston, however, there is no context. And for me to be living here, in Israel- where a certain level of violence is expected on occasion- and to watch bombs exploding in Boston? It was surreal. Videos of the explosions were online before we even paid the bill, and I watched in horror on my phone as buildings I used to walk by daily were torn apart. The Boston setting was familiar, and the scene of terror was familiar- but I could not wrap my head around the two together….and it made me homesick in a way I haven’t experienced until now. Knowing how 'commonplace' things like this are for my Israeli friends deepens my respect for the Israeli experience. It also makes me hope that those in Boston effected by this tragedy can rebound from their pain, and stand strong against whomever is to blame.

When Israel and Hamas went to war a few months ago, I had an experience of war and terrorism that was new for me. And the biggest lesson I learned from Israelis was this: if the fear prevents you from living your life, the terrorists have won. You must press on, you must garner strength from the knowledge that life will always conquer death, good will prevail over evil.

So, to my friends and loved ones in Boston- my heart is with you. I am overjoyed and utterly relieved that you are all ok, and I wish so much that I could be there with you right now. My heart breaks for our city, and for those who were affected by this tragedy. I pray that whomever is to blame will not be allowed a victory of fear. May justice be swift, and recovery short.

UPDATE: my friend Jen lives in Boston and wrote an account of her experience here. Jen and I worked together at the David Project, and she moved to Israel a year before me. She's an American-Israeli who has studied counter-terrorism, and the article is excellent. Check it out.


A quick (but nonetheless important) aside:

Four years ago, I drove a new little family home from Mass General Hospital, and was introduced to a little girl who would change my world forever- Liron Etta. I watched my good friends Sasha and Ellen become exemplary parents overnight, and I hope that one day my family will be half as happy as theirs. I had the privelage of becoming a part of their family, and the memories we made together are precious to me.

You guys are my family, and today I wish more than ever that I could be with you to celebrate. I miss you every day, and I can’t wait to be back this summer to make more memories together. Keep a place for me at the table, and in your hearts.

Happy birthday, Liron!! I love you so much.

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