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Friday, August 24, 2012

Making Amends

Sitting in Hadassah Ein Kerem right now is a lovely and dignified mother who, like me and countless other Jewish women, was on her way to the Rami Levy supermarket to buy food for her family’s holiday celebrations. I can imagine her bringing her husband and small children, enjoying the outing as a family, anticipating the feast but like all of us concerned about rising costs of food…the kind of shopping day most Jewish women face on the eve of any holy day.

On her way to the grocery store in a taxi driven by another relative, they were fire bombed by a Jewish terrorist who appears to have deliberately targeted her taxi because of its obvious Palestinian origin (license plates and color). An initial IDF investigation indicated that Israelis were behind the attack. Shin Bet has taken over the investigation and is hunting the terrorist. The army raided Bat Ayin in the early hours of the morning following the attack.

I went to visit her at the hospital. Why? I’m not an “activist” or a “peacenik” or even a liberal….I’m a fairly conservative, religious Jewish woman with children and grandchildren. But I cannot describe the horror and outrage I felt at the news of this attack. Jamila Hassan is only 25 years old, the mother of two small children also burned horribly in this attack. She could be my daughter. Her children could be my grandchildren. What happened to her should never happen to any human being.

I went because I wanted her to know how sorry I am that this happened, and more so, how sorry I am that a Jew did this to her and her family.

I went because I am ashamed.

I am not ashamed of being Jewish, of being Israeli, or the choices I have made in my life. I am ashamed that one of my People has by this act of barbarism perpetrated חילול השם‎--a desecration of G-d’s name.

I went because I needed to do teshuvah.

We are all responsible for each other, the Sages teach. Thus, while I would never in my life throw a cinderblock or a Molotov cocktail at a passing motorist, I am filled with horror that a Jew did so, and in doing so, destroyed a man’s livelihood, a woman’s face, another man’s body, burned two small children and traumatized not only an entire family but the community in which they live. I personally didn’t throw that Molotov, but if we are all responsible for one another, it behooves me to do teshuvah for the merciless acts of terror committed by a member of the Jewish community.

I went to the hospital with great trepidation. My Arabic is so rudimentary as to be nearly non-existent and my Hebrew is at a basic street-level. 
Jamila and a few family members were sitting and talking. They looked a bit askance as I entered—that “are you lost?” look. One young man spoke Hebrew and translated for me. Jamila and her family did not react with anger, or scorn, or hatred or any of the feelings such a horrific attack could engender. She is a beautiful young woman, full of grace and dignity, and she greeted me with that grace and dignity. She accepted my paltry gifts with thanks, my sorrow with acceptance, and at that point, about a dozen more relatives arrived en masse. One of the women offered me a cookie and a smile when I stopped talking; the elders thanked me for my concern. A young man, a teen, had great anger in his eyes, but heard me, I hope, when I said how sorry I was, and that I am angry also.

I have a request of my fellow Jews in the Jerusalem area.

Visit Jamila.  According to Jewish tradition, bikkur cholim, visiting the sick, is an essential mitzvah,  a religious and ethical obligation.  This is not an easy visit--not only is it not someone you know, but it is a human injured by another Jew. It is not easy, but it is the right thing to do.

Go there. It is easy to condemn the actions of a terrorist while sitting at a table with friends or family, but your action is what is needed now.  If you also feel complete outrage at a terrorist attack on an innocent family, then tell her to her burned face you are sorry for what happened, that you are ashamed a Jew would do this, and ask her forgiveness. Jews from Bat Ayin, near the site of the attack, doubtless with the same trepidation I felt, have already gone there and done this. It is not only the moral thing to do in this month of Elul, this time of repentence, it is the kind thing to do—let her know that she is valued as a human being and mother who should never have been subjected to such terror. Act with kindness and compassion to a young woman grievously injured by one of our own.

Otherwise, how can you stand on Yom Kippur and petition HaShem for forgiveness without having asked Jamila for hers?

Jamila Hassan is in the new building across from the Mall, 7th floor, room 6.


Blogger Unknown said...

I don't know how I stumbled onto your blog, but it's amazing. So much food for thought, especially the piece about raising your son in a non-supportive environment. I hope that Israel is good for him.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 3:14:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

aintaThanks, Laurie!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 6:57:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

hahaha==that'ssupposed to be thanks but the kitten keeps walking on the keyboard~~

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 6:58:00 PM GMT+2  

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