It takes one funny joke to make someone smile, one sad event to make someone cry, and two malicious terrorists to stab five sleeping people in just one night. On Friday night March 12, two adults and three children were stabbed to death in Itamar. A night so routine took the most unexpected horrific turn after the Fogel family said good night and went to bed. At their most defenseless and vulnerable states, both parents, a 3-month-old baby girl, a 4-year-old boy, and an 11-year-old boy were stabbed to death amid their peaceful dreams. I was informed of this terrorist attack on Saturday night in a somewhat casual manner. I gasped and took a mere moment to acknowledge the tragedy, but quickly became distracted and moved on with my night without a second thought. My initial reaction was similar to how I used to react before my year in Israel upon hearing of terrorist attacks. I would feel bad, but in America it all seemed very distant to me so I moved on rather easily. However, after living and learning in Israel for the past seven months, I had an unexpectedly stronger reaction the following day.
When I found out that my school was giving us the opportunity to attend the funeral for the family in Jerusalem, I went to the computer to research the details of what had occurred. The moment I began reading, it all became so real. They had names, they had faces, they had friends, and they had futures, all of which were taken away so abruptly and violently for no reason anyone can comprehend. As I scrolled down and continued to read, I began to cry. My heart hurt for each member of the family, and although I had never met the Fogels, I felt as if my family had been harmed. I realized that it did not matter where they lived, if I knew them or not, or even if we spoke the same language. They were my family because they were part of Am Yisroel, and I cried because they were taken away from us. My strong reaction to the tragedy shocked me, for I had never felt so connected to people that I would otherwise refer to as strangers.
I, along with 20,000 other Jews, went to show my love and support at the funeral later that day. The sense of unity I felt upon seeing the mass of people was comforting. We are all one family suffering the loss of five of our brothers and sisters, and together we will move past it. For the past seven months living in Israel, I felt like a foreigner. After this tragedy, I finally feel like this is my family and I truly belong.
The writer is a student at Midreshet Moriah in Jerusalem.