One of my favorite life experiences is the semester that I spent in Jerusalem in 1997. I could go on and on, and have done so to family and friends, about the great times I had there.
Some of my favorite experiences were cultural ones. I loved walking around the city and seeing what life was like there. The Open Air Market was a fun place to go. I had never seen fish so fresh that their gills were still working. That was the place I bought the Kipba's for my father and brothers. There was some really great food there that we wanted to try. When we asked how much it would cost for just one piece of food rather than a bag full, the vendor kindly and/or smartly just gave it to us.
My classmates and I frequented Ben Yahuda street. On one of the corners there was a Kosher pizza shop. I remember it because my friends and I had a conversation about how good a Kosher pizza would be considering that you don't mix cheese and meat. Right around the corner was a jewelry shop. I still wear the ring I got there, with my name engraved in Hebrew.
Our campus was minutes away by foot from Hebrew University. That was a fun place to go also. There were of course alot of college aged people there and it was great to interact with them. I still sometimes wear my Hebrew University shirt.
They are great memories among many others. But, they are accompanied by other memories I had after returning to the United States.
Words cannot fully describe how I felt when I learned that the Open Air Market had been bombed. It was a feeling of shock and sadness. I knew the place and remembered the feel of it, the sights, sounds and even smells. That was the first time I had seen a place I had a strong connection to violently attacked.
Then Ben Yahuda street was bombed. I watched the news again with that sense of shock. They talked about a pizza shop next to a jewelry shop that had been at the center of the attack. The faces of the shop owners were in my mind.
Later I was glued to the T.V. again as Hebrew University was bombed and kept wondering aloud with a sense of numb disbelief "how could they attack a school?"
I did not feel terror, I felt an enourmous weight of sadness and reality.
I despise terrorism with a passion. I've witnessed its destructive power over places and people that I care about deeply. When I see terrorism strike other places, those memories come flooding back, along with those same feelings of despising terrorism and that heavy weight of sadness.
But, there is another set of feelings that also come, compassion and empathy. My heart goes out to those who suffer.
There is a sign just outside the entrance to The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. It says "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem." I do. I also pray for Mumbai. I pray for the peace and consoling of all those who suffer at the hands of the great evil of terrorism.
I pray that those who suffer will feel that they are not just in God's hands but in His arms. He can take horrible events and make us better people out of it. He gave me the gift of compassion. For that I am forever grateful, and try to pass it on.