Baruch Dayan Emet

On June 30, 2016, 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was killed in her sleep in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba by a Palestinian teenager from a neighboring village.

Kiryat Arba is adjacent to Hevron. I visited Hevron in 2012, and it was a terrible, terrible situation of a small Jewish settlement heavily guarded by the IDF, isolated in the middle of otherwise total Palestinian territory.

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Hevron is home to the Tomb/Cave of the Patriarchs, an irreplaceable, immovable sacred place for Jews and Muslims believed to hold the graves of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. The tomb is split between days when Jews can visit and days when Muslims can visit.

Kiryat Arba literally means “Town of the Four.” It is mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 23, that when Sarah died in Kiryat Arba, Abraham negotiated to buy the land and cave of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site for Sarah.

Today, the land is a terrible scene of razor wire and houses caged in by metal fences surrounding a shared tomb that should be a source of love and peace.

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This situation is awful, but this act of terror is unthinkable. There is no excuse or justification for murder and terror. Ever.

Related News Articles:
Palestinian Man Stabs and Kills 13-year-old Israeli Girl Asleep in Her West Bank Home
Teen killed in Kiryat Arba attack was an American citizen

Yeshiva head killed, 3 family members injured in drive-by shooting near Hebron
IDF slaps closure on Hebron, withholds PA tax funds after attacks
Relative of Kiryat Arba killer tries to stab cop in Hebron, is shot dead
Two Israelis Wounded in Netanya Stabbing Attack, the Second in 24 Hours

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Checking In

“In America, despite shooting sprees, crime, and any other danger we face from car accidents to hurricanes, we live our lives without focusing on the risks primarily because the odds of something tragic happening to us are one in a jillion. I don’t expect my friends in America to check in when a shooting takes place in their city, nor do they.” – Benji Lovitt (full article here)

Terrorist attacks aren’t typical crimes. When there’s a homicide or burglary in Israel (or America), I doubt there are expectations to check in. Yet when it’s an act of random violence targeting a specific population or area, be it a terrorist/hate shooting or a tornado, I want to know that my loved ones are safe.

I learned about the shootings happening four miles from my house at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom in 2014 from a friend in Minnesota who texted to make sure I was alright. I learned about tornado touchdowns in my area this spring when my aunt in Ohio texted to make sure I was ok.

I believe Kansas City, especially Overland Park, is a very safe place to live. And yes, there were many nights in Jerusalem where I felt safer than I ever have alone at night in the States. Yet whether I’m in Israel or Kansas, when something out of the ordinary happens that might possibly affect me, friends and family want me to check in to know that I’m safe. The wish for a loved one to check in may speak to the fact that the dangerous situation is out of the ordinary and not part of regular life. Or, the frequency of the potential danger may have nothing to do with it.

The process of checking in may instead speak to the fact that we have loving friends and family who worry at the slightest chance that we are in harm’s way. These same people also want to know when we’ve made it to our destination on a road trip or landed safely when flying.

In the the case of danger, social media is a quick and easy way to communicate that we are ok to our dearest friends. And when that danger is shared on national or international media, that person we met once who remembers us positively enough to be concerned for our well being when they hear something bad happened in the city we may or may not still live in appreciates the check in, too. It may be sensationalized, but it’s mostly because they care.

Social media, along with all forms of communication, has it’s drawbacks. My husband’s grandfather was serving overseas during World War II and wrote a letter home to his family everyday. When he was in deployment in Italy, there was no mail going in or out. The family panicked when they stopped receiving letters. Eventually, the mail service resumed and they learned that he was ok. My husband always told me the moral of this story is “never write home everyday.”

Yes, there are times when we may be asleep, in a movie, observing Shabbat, or otherwise away from our phones and not even aware that something terrible has happened. Yes, people may panic trying to get a hold of us. However, they will probably be worrying regardless. So for the sake of the Jewish mothers in all of us, please check in when you can.

Purim without Esther or Mordecai

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David Waksberg, CEO of JewishLearningWorks, shared this story an email this week:

When our son was learning to read, every piece of writing was a new adventure, including the Jewish calendar on our kitchen wall.

Sounding out a new set of words one spring day as we were chopping vegetables and setting the table, he asked: “What’s Holocaust Remembrance Day?”

We weren’t ready to talk about the Shoah (Holocaust), but my wife, quick on her feet, started to explain this enormous and incomprehensible thing to our six year old.

“Oh,” he said. “It’s like Purim, but without Esther and Mordecai.”

That people hated Jews enough to try to kill them did not shock our six year old; he was already familiar with that story. What made the Shoah different was that they succeeded.

Shockingly insightful and raw words from the mouth of a babe. Read the rest of Waksberg’s Yom HaShoah message here.

Photo source: Wikipedia