Israel Center

Evil reached us today—Israelis, American Jewish citizens and an innocent Palestinian, all victims of terror attacks.

It began when two Israelis were murdered, stabbed in an attack in southern Tel Aviv just outside a synagogue. The terrorist responsible was in Israel legally, working for a nearby restaurant.

And shortly after this attack, another terrorist killed three people in Gush Etzion near Jerusalem. An 18-year-old American citizen, Ezra Schwartz; a 49-year-old Israeli, Ya’akov Don; and a Palestinian, Shadi Arafa, 40, a citizen of Hebron—all died.

One of the victims, Ya’akov Don, is a resident of the Gush Etzion region and a father of four. When I was 15, I lived in Boston with my family when my father had his sabbatical. Ya’akov’s family lived by us as his father was on sabbatical as well. Ya’akov and I were in the same class in Maimonides School in Brookline, and car-pooled to school every day. As the two newcomer Israelis, we became friends. We didn’t keep in touch after that, but all these years he has been part of the fond memories I have from my year in Boston.

Today, when I saw Ya’akov’s picture and that he was among the victims of terror, I was flooded with these memories and painfully reminded how terror can be close.

Along with Ya’akov, a young American, Ezra Schwartz from Sharon, Massachusetts, was also murdered. He was attending a gap-year program, and making his way back to his yeshiva with other students after handing out special Shabbat treats to soldiers serving in this troubled area.

Tel Aviv is Israel’s hip, happening center. Gush Etzion is a controversial place, a cluster of settlements south of Jerusalem. They could not be more different. But today, they are the same, united by a hatred that doesn’t recognize geopolitical differences.

Through a gun sight, we are all merely human beings. The terrorists today demonstrated their monstrous desire to kill, blind to nationality, blind to morality, blind to humanity. Evil doesn’t discriminate between Israelis, Palestinians and American Jewish tourists. Israel mourns tonight the loss of five innocent lives. Five more tragic losses—on a week where France is burying 129 victims of terror, the world cries out against the waste of human life.

On the week when ISIS is threatening to bomb Times Square, and when a school in Florida had to be evacuated because of a suspicious bomb, we can see that terror has no borders and no limits.

May the memory of this week’s victims be blessed for their will to live freely in this world. It is a desire that cannot be taken for granted.

There is so much beauty of our world. Let us hope that it perseveres through this dark cruelty. There is such potential for harmony and to celebrate our common humanity that we cannot let this terror darken our lives.

We have but one hope—to live together in peace.

Leah Garber, Vice President, Director | JCC Israel Center
leah@jcca.org