A letter from Jerusalem

A letter from Jerusalem

What happened just a few hours ago will forever change my Israel experience. Twenty of us were at a restaurant in Mamilla celebrating Shira’s birthday when one by one we all received texts that there was a bomb by Binyanei Hauma and that we should immediately return to school – taxis only. Panic filled the table – everyone yelling at each other on our next step of action. Should we leave or finish lunch? Should we walk or take taxis? Should we cry or scream? I was shocked by my reaction. I was a little unsettled but for the most part I was determined to continue what I wanted to do today – daven mincha at the Kotel, get my ring fixed, visit Aunt Blanche. My friends told me I was being stupid and my parents asked me to go back to school but now, at 6:49 p.m., I could say with confidence that if I did continue with my day I would be completely fine and I would be sitting on my bed writing in my journal just as I am doing now.

I started to feel fear when I remembered that my friend was walking to the Binyanei Hauma area. I quickly texted her. That minute she took to respond felt like an eternity. It was then I realized that it could have been me or any of my loved ones. Fear started to take over, and I was unsure what to do. I e-mailed one of my teachers and he reinforced my initial reaction. We cannot let them scare us. That is their goal – for us to be so scared that we leave. Yes, we can be afraid but we cannot let it stop our everyday lives. We need to retaliate and not let them think that they have the upper hand. If we do not put a stop to it now we will have a repeat of the intifada. They will continue their cruelty if they see benefits. This is my Israel, and no one can take her from me. I will stay until the end to defend her. This only strengthened my resolution to make aliyah…. But I am going back to America, and it is entirely for Israel. I will get an amazing education. But most importantly I will be a messenger for the State of Israel on the college campus. This is how I will do my national service.

As we waited in the Prima Kings hotel for the craziness to subside in order to take a taxi back to school, another thought crossed my mind. Let’s say it was me that died from the attack. If it is God’s will then it is God’s will and what better way to die than for my country? This thought soothed me. I will continue to go on buses because I need to resist the fear and if I die, well, then I die, and I die for something I believe in. Never before have I been so comfortable with my death.

Something that really bothered me was a conversation with a friend. She was hysterical, saying that she is terrified and all she wants to do is go back home. Home?!? America?!? Is that a joke?! You are blinded to think that America is your home. In the past 2,000 years in the exile we have been passed from country to country, from persecution to persecution. Yes, the past 50 years in America have been safe, but the first 50 years in Russia, Spain, and Germany were safe too! America is not your home and you are blind and ignorant to think so. Israel is the only place we can have an army and combat anti-Semitism, which will never dissipate – no matter the generation.

The next thing I am going to say sounds horrible and vulgar but I must share. A sense of relief washed over me today. The angst I have had about feeling out of place finally went away. I know what it is like now to have one word, “paguah” (bomb), turn your world upside down. I felt the anxiety, the questions, the pangs of worry. But I also felt the determination, the unity, the will to keep my life going. Today I became an Israeli.