Friday, October 11, 2002

Under the Trees

It’s like living on a ping pong table, getting battered back and forth between life cycle events – birth, death, bar and bat mitvah, joy, despair, hospitalization, recovery.

We had already gone from Marla’s death in July onto a series of birthdays – Amir & Jody in August, Merav & me in September. A few weeks ago, I attended an absolutely lovely brit mila for a co-worker’s new son. The event was held outdoors, under the trees, at the Neot Kedumim Biblical Nature Reserve – a sprawling botanical landscape located not far from Modi’in and filled with living things found only in the Bible.

The guests assembled outdoors in a pine grove set with tables and balloons and catered quiches, lasagna, salmon and decadent desserts. The weather was warm but not humid; a perfect fall evening. The baby cried, but not too much. The mother looked happy but bleary while the father worked the crowd which included a number of officers in uniform, friends of the family. They named their new son Kfir.

The very next day, I found myself under the trees again, once again in the company of officials in uniform. The weather was warm, but not too humid. This was the AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel)’s annual memorial for those North Americans who have lost their lives in the past year, whether by terror, army training accident or car crash. It reminded me of what we say on Yom Kippur: who live and who will die, who by water and who by fire, who at his predestined time and who before his time...

We remembered 24 individuals that afternoon. Marla was one of those remembered, but this time she was not alone. She was joined by her friend Ben who was sitting with her at the Hebrew University cafeteria when the bomb went off.

And then there were the others: Lee, Merom, Hagai, Gedaliah, Matanya and Shmuel, all of whom were killed in the line of duty while serving in the IDF. Moran, who was killed just for taking a walk in Jerusalem. Shoshana, Moshe, and Gila who were killed while riding to home or work on the bus. Lynne and Atara and Esther and Avi who died in their own cars. Rachel, who died eating pizza. Hanna, who died Seder night eating matzah. Asher, who was killed in his bed at school. Roni who was filling in for the lead singer at a bat mitzah. Zvi who died in an army training accident. And of course the other North American victims of the Hebrew University nightmare: Dina, Janis and David. And there are already more, who enter into the next Hebrew calendar year.

A child is born. A young person is taken. Playing cruel ping-pong with my emotions. But this is our life and we must embrace it, live it to its fullest. Two events, under the trees. What will tomorrow bring?

To read biographies on the 24, as well as all of the over 600 victims of terror in the last two years, go to the Israel Emergency Solidarity Fund. Or click the person’s name above. To read a report on the AACI Memorial event, click here.

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