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A Father Reflects on the Tragedy in Boston

A Father Reflects on the Tragedy in Boston

“I kept thinking: this stuff doesn’t happen here. We associate bombs, sadly, with Israel or Iraq, not Boston. Alas, we all have our ‘reality bites’ moments.”
“I kept thinking: this stuff doesn’t happen here. We associate bombs, sadly, with Israel or Iraq, not Boston. Alas, we all have our ‘reality bites’ moments.”

I am sitting with my laptop as the older boys bounce a ball back and forth safely between themselves, and my heart is finally beginning to stop racing.

My wife called me at 3 PM and told me to pick up the kids right away—two bombs had exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The kids go to New England Hebrew Academy, just a mile or so from the blasts.

We live in a suburb of Boston, some 15 miles north of the city, and it is usually a traffic crawl the entire way. But today was Patriots’ Day, a Massachusetts holiday, and thankfully there were no cars on the road.

The whole way in, driving at speeds I don’t care to mention, all I could think about was my kids. The radio was reporting that more bombs had been found—the panic was mounting by the minute. As I crossed the bridge into Boston, my cell phone stopped working, heightening the anxiety. Thankfully the phone kicked back in, and an e‑mail came through from the school announcing that all the kids were accounted for and safe.

I kept thinking: this stuff doesn’t happen here. We associate bombs, sadly, with Israel or Iraq, not Boston. Alas, we all have our “reality bites” moments.

I loaded my kids into the car and headed back north. Trying to field their questions, I realized that their world, and mine, won’t ever be the same. The terrible, heartbreaking reality is that evil exists and can touch them even here, at home.

The school nurse sent out an e‑mail advising us to avoid the news and not share too much with the kids, so as not to overwhelm them. Wise advice, but almost impossible to follow. The flood of calls and texts didn’t stop.

Then, only hours after the explosions, I began to hear stories about the greatness of the human spirit, about people along the marathon route who were coming out of their homes to give out water or food, or offering a place to rest or stay, since the city was in virtual lockdown and many could not get to their homes or hotels. I heard of participants in the race running straight from the finish line to area hospitals to donate blood. In addition, I heard from colleagues of mine rushing to area hospitals to assist the families of the wounded.

An e‑mail arrived from Rabbi Shmuel Posner, who runs the Chabad center close to the bombing:

The Chabad House and the Posner family are okay, thank G‑d.

Two things:

1. If anybody is in the area that needs help, a runner/family that needs a place to stay, a hot drink, a hug or wants to pray, whatever,


2. Thank you so much to all who texted, called, e‑mailed, FB messaged to see how we are!

We love you.

Shmuel and Chana

It hit me: this is the appropriate response to my kids’ questions.

Thank G‑d everyone here is okay. Now, what can I do to help those who are not okay? Without diminishing our pain at this tragedy and our deep compassion for those who are suffering, we can show our children an additional response. A disaster like this, while very frightening, is an opportunity to grow and give, rather than cower and run. If I can model this attitude myself, if I can point out to my children the countless small acts of heroism that are taking place, then at least as a parent I will have given them something strong and positive to hold onto.

May G‑d comfort those who have lost loved ones. May He heal the injured, and may we speedily be ushered into the era when “death will be swallowed up forever, and G‑d will wipe away tears from all faces.” May we know only happy times.

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Discussion (26)
April 23, 2013
A father's reflection
In times like these.....many people draw closer to G-d.. I specifically heard "My God.... My God! numerous times . Even President Obama acknowledge God ? shortly after this tragedy, in his speech? "we will find out who did this! and they shall be brought to justice"! I pray , he meant G-d when he said "we" ? Blesseth are they who call on Him.. They will be delivered.. He is a present help in times of trouble... the enemies were shot down. and brought to judgment, very,very quickly... Peace, once more reigns.... Shalom.
Raymond Bastarache
New Brunswick, Canada
April 19, 2013
Racing to School - Apology
I apologize for my earlier remarks. I don't know what got into me that day. I hope that you all remain safe. May G-d bless you for your work on behalf of the Jewish People. May G-d protect us all and return us to our true home with Moshiach. Good Shabbos.
April 18, 2013
Response to previous comment
Racing to School posted an extremely anti Rabbi and simply anti parent could keep your children in a battle zone if that makes you happy but do not remark on these parents urgency to find safety for theirs...and if you are Jewish shame on you. Chabad does more outreach to communities at large spanning the globe than most organizations, to people of all faiths, and yes Chabad Rabbis do run marathons. Nechemia and his wife are outstanding people.
New Jersey
April 17, 2013
Thanks for sharing!
This is the kind of stuff that should be all over the news- All the acts of kindness that were generated from this tragedy. Mashiach will be here soon!
Sarah Rivka :)
Cincinnati, OH
April 17, 2013
to confused
What do you mean, is this fiction? You didn't hear what happened in Boston?
April 17, 2013
thank you
Thank you for sharing this with such clarity, very inspirational.
Moshiach now!
April 17, 2013
Thank you for sharing your thoughts & feelings. As a Mom (my kids are adults) I certainly felt the "pain" and "anguish" being experienced by those who witnessed this horrific event & for those who were desperately attempting to reach family & friends during the moments immediately following the bombings. May you and your family remain safe. And may all of Boston and its wonderful men, women and children remain resolute. To those who were injured, I wish a speedy and complete recovery. For the loved ones who must deal with a loss, I send my condolences.
Marilyn Wattman-Feldman
Oviedo, FL
April 17, 2013
A Father Reflects
Thank you for your beautiful words, which brought tears to my eyes. May your prayer be immediately fulfilled, and, the prayer of Martin Richard, the child who before he tragically lost his life, held up a sign that he had written that read "Peace."
New York
April 17, 2013
Thanks For Sharing
Dear Sir,

We are glad you & your family are safe. Not realizing where Chabad was located. I'm grateful to Hashem & for safety, but continue to pray for those affected by this tragedy.

April 17, 2013
May same way you paved for others be your way also
Adole Peter
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