Sunday, September 01, 2002

Post Script to the Wedding
Last time, I wrote about a wedding we attended on Monday. It wasn't my intention for this blog to become particularly political or news-oriented. At least not so quickly. That's why the slogan is “Life in Israel, Life in General.” And yet the news and the crazy terror-infused lives we are compelled to live these days has a sick way of intruding.

On Motzei Shabbat, we received a call from Aviva’s cousin who is also a friend of ours. You recall that it was Aviva's son's wedding we went to last week. There was a shooting in Har Bracha, a settlement near Nablus. Aviva’s whole family had gone there for Shabbat to celebrate Sheva Brachot with the new bride & groom who had just moved there. Upon hearing of the shooting, Aviva’s sister had been trying to get family members on their cellphones but no one was answering. We knew nothing. We were asked to start saying tehillim.

I went to the TV. If they’ve pre-empted regular programming, you know it’s a big attack. That's the way it is here. Channel 1 was showing a big event indeed, but it looked like it was coming from America. Lots of smoke. Emergency vehicles. People running around. My Hebrew being what it is, I couldn’t figure it out exactly. Had Al Qeuda struck again? It reminded me of 9/11 last year when I was in France on that fateful day and the two-star hotel I was staying in only had French TV, no CNN or BBC and I saw images of the trade centers burning while an announcer cried out “Un Castrophe!” but I had no idea what was really going on, whether it was an accident or what.

Anyway, it turned out Channel 1 was doing a look-back at 9/11 and the footage was of the Pentagon. Channel 2 was running a movie. CNN was doing a travel show. BBC was creating one of those shows that Monty Python used to spoof. So it couldn’t have been too bad, right?

Next stop: the Internet. Haaretz in English had a report. There were two injured – Israelis it said (our friends were Americans who had made aliyah…a good sign, yes?) had nothing yet. On a whim, I surfed to Arutz Sheva – a site I rarely visit (unlike many of my American Jewish friends…ask me about that in another posting), and they had the most details. It was a married couple, 23 or 24 years old. From Jerusalem.

Aviva’s sister called back. It was Aviva’s daugher and son-in-law. Not the ones whose wedding we had just gone to, but the daughter, Dalit, whose wedding we’d gone to at Ramat Rachel a year ago. They were in moderate to serious condition but stable. They were already on the way to hospital. The news doesn’t make much of such “simple” woundings, though we know from other friends that they can be devastating requiring long painful recovery. Three years ago, our friend Dean was gunned down while leaving shul on Friday night in Chicago. He took five bullets; two still remain. He has recovered, but is in constant pain all the time.

That all this comes on the heels of our cousin Marla being murdered in the Hebrew University bombing on July 31 makes it all the more unbelievable…and unbearable. At the wedding, Aviva had been comforting us, telling us that Marla had been a real kidush hashem, even if it was difficult for us to see that now, this being in response to my unwillingness to accept a designation which seemed too mystically religious for my secular sensibilities.

After we had “confirmation,” Jody sent out emails with their Hebrew names. We got the kids into bed – first day of school the next day, what else could we do. We had a hard time falling asleep. Many people said tehillim during the selichot services Saturday night.

In the morning, the news reported that Aviva’s daughter was “in the advanced stages of pregnancy.” She sure didn’t look that way at the wedding Monday night. But it sells more papers, I guess. Banner headline: white letters on black or red background – "WOMAN, PREGNANT. SHOT IN CHEST. GORY DETAILS GUARANTEED INSIDE." I remember staring at the “family table” at the wedding which was just across from ours, trying to figure out who all the sons and daughters and sons and daughters-in-law were. Dalit was directly in our line of vision.

Somebody told us after Marla was killed that “now we’re really Israeli.” Does this event make us even more Israeli? When we made Aliyah eight years ago, being Israeli seemed to mean enjoying kosher Mexican food and a national calendar that revolved around Jewish holidays. There was peace on the horizon, I drove in many places I wouldn’t go near today. My brother and I went over the Allenby Bridge on our way to Jordan.

Today, being Israeli demands a whole different level of commitment. Of course, it always did, sure, but we were na├»ve. Or optimistic (you know, by the time our kids get to army age we won’t need an army, all that blah-blah).

So, I guess, now after two years of non-stop violence and two tragedies much too close together, yes, we really are Israeli.

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