My husband and I, together with our
children, made aliyah almost eight years ago and live in the East Talpiot
neighborhood of Jerusalem. We are blessed to be shluchim who direct Chabad of Baka, a warm community comprised of new
olim from around the world.
This past month has not been easy, with
the constant barrage of terror attacks, two of which took place in our own
neighborhood. The No. 78 bus that was brutally attacked by two terrorists—who
with a gun and knife killed three innocent people and injured many more—is our bus,
the bus we and our children frequently use.
A second terror attack took place right
on our block, Rav Chovel Street. We heard gunshots, and a few minutes
later, the deafening sound of police and ambulance sirens. We and our pajama-clad
neighbors stood on our porches (it was about 8:30 on Shabbat morning) trying to
make sense of the dramatic and frightening scene unfolding before our eyes.
A typical street scene in Baka (Wikimedia)
A terrorist had been eliminated after
an attempted stabbing attack, but he and his Arab accomplices seemed to have come
with much deadlier intent. They were lurking near a Sephardic shul at the
bottom of our block, and someone called the police. When the officer asked one
of the suspicious youth for his identification, the teenager from Jabel Mukaber
lunged at him with a knife, attempting to stab him. The terrorist was
subsequently shot, while his friends managed to escape. We all thanked
G‑d for His protection in saving us and others from potential disaster.
Despite the disturbing violence taking
place in our neighborhood, streets and buses, I want to share with you why I
The answer is simple: the kindness and
unity of our nation gives me hope.
The Tuesday of the deadly bus attack, a
Jewish man from our neighborhood posted a message on the Arnona/Armon Hanatziv Facebook
page. He was offering to drive people around the neighborhood to help with
carpool or other errands, understanding that many felt traumatized and scared
to ride the bus. I was amazed at the unconditional kindness of this man,
offering to reach out to complete strangers.
On the Wednesday after the bus attack
in Armon Hanatziv, we organized a Friendship Circle pizza party just a few blocks
away from the terror site, and the camaraderie seen there warmed my
heart. Seminary girls from across Jerusalem came to meet their new friends—children
with special needs whom they will visit weekly over the course of the year. The
parents of these special children never cease to inspire me with their strength
of spirit and positive attitude.
Even as threats of terror hovered in the background, children with special needs and teen volunteers gathered for music and camaraderie.
In light of the situation, we added the
recitation of Tehillim (Psalms) to the program, which included a light dinner
and activities for the children. From the garden where the party took place, we
could hear a Chabad mitzvah tank riding by, blasting joyful music about Jewish
How proud I feel to be part of this
people! A nation that encourages goodness and kindness. A nation that
raises children and teenagers to share and give selflessly of themselves.
A nation whose parents love and nurture their children, and do everything in
their power to protect them and teach them good values.
During these tense weeks, a Mayanot
student I taught four years ago found our Chabad of Baka website and donated
generously, writing simply: “Hi Dina, It’s your former student from Mayanot.
Praying for peace in Eretz Yisrael with Moshiach now.”
I can’t even describe how much hope
those two short lines gave me.
Last Monday when I came in to teach at
Mayanot, another pleasant surprise awaited us. A letter and picture hung on the
bulletin board—a group of smiling women from Lawrence, N.Y., were holding
Israeli and American flags. In the letter, they wrote: “We, the women of
Congregation Shaaray Tefila Synagogue, Lawrence, Long Island, and our friends
and family from throughout the New York area are sending you our heartfelt
support. You have inspired us deeply by your determination to continue
studying in Israel despite these difficult and challenging times. Today’s
luncheon is our way of sending you a hug of encouragement and love.”
Sure enough, a gourmet lunch from an
Israeli restaurant was delivered that day, bringing great joy and encouragement
to the Mayanot students.
This group of New Yorkers made a big difference for fellow Jews they’ve never met.
The love and support pouring into
Israel from fellow Jews in the Diaspora is a testament to the unity and
uniqueness of our people.
The Friday morning of the “Shabbos
Project” (Oct. 23), I saw a video of 2,000 women dancing at a challah-bake event
in Brooklyn. N.Y., to the song, Am Yisrael,
lo l’fached, Hashem Elokeinu Hashem echad—“The nation of Israel, do not
fear, Hashem is our G‑d, Hashem is one!”
Their pure faith and joy was
infectious, and I spontaneously started to dance with my 16-month-old baby, to
her great delight. We both had huge smiles spread across our faces.
The heavy mood I felt after reading the
dire news’ headlines just beforehand was magically lifted, as I realized that
the Jewish people are a miraculous nation. We always have been, and even
when the political and natural situation seems bleak, we know that G‑d can
bring salvation in the blink of an eye.
Our own community’s “Shabbos Project
Unity Dinner” that Friday night was also a remarkable display of Jewish spirit
and faith. Some 150 people, including a lone soldier who found the event
on Facebook, braved the Jerusalem streets to be a part of the electrifying
atmosphere. We all left that meal uplifted and strengthened.
Certainly, G‑d saw the 1 million Jews
who joined the “Shabbos Project” this month. Certainly, He sees the acts of
kindness and unity being performed by Jews around the globe.
In the merit of our efforts to unite
and to speak positively about one another, may we see miracles and wonders,
with true peace and security in our land and the coming of Moshiach.
Despite widespread fear of Arab terrorism, Jewish people from all over Baka and beyond joined together for a Shabbat of joy and inspiration.