Thursday, I was driving back past Mamilla after dropping my daughter at school, and I got caught up in a huge traffic jam because a couple of crazy Palestinians had just gone on a shooting spree by the Damascus Gate tram station, and succeeded in seriously wounding a fellow Arab, by mistake.
(As a side note, if I was paying these guys for all their efforts, I think I would have hired someone from the IRA to take over by now…)
Sitting in the traffic jam, hearing all the sirens, and seeing all the police utility vehicles driving like the clappers to get another 100 metres up the road, I clearly had no idea what had gone on, so I got a little shaky again. The past few months, since my daughter left her school in the Old City, I’ve been dealing much better with all the stress, and mostly just getting on with my life and trusting God to look after me and my family.
But occasionally, when it’s very close to home, it’s still pretty stressful.
I came home, told my husband something had just happened again and he said: “Yeah, I know. You could hear them firing from here.” (Damascus Gate tram station is about a 2 minute walk from my house, as the crow flies.) We logged on the internet to find out ‘what’, read all about what had happened earlier in the week too, logged off.
Just another day of Middle East madness.
Then Friday, I was walking on Jaffa St picking up some last minute stuff for Shabbat with my husband when the sirens went off again. We watched one police car roar up the pedestrianized Jaffa street and raised an eyebrow: something? Or nothing?
A few seconds later, the next police car roared up after it. Hmm. Looking more like ‘something’ at this point. When the third sped up a few seconds later, it was a done deal. We finished shopping and I came home to check ‘what’ again on the internet, because we usually go down to the Kotel Friday night, and it’s just good to know ‘what’ before I let my kids out the door, so I know how many prayers to heap on their head before they leave.
Apparently, a moderate stabbing by Jaffa gate, the Old City (a ten minute walk from my house.)
But this stuff has now been going on for so long, that it has to be really serious now to stop us from going to the Kotel.
I know maybe that sounds a little callous to anyone reading this outside of Jerusalem, but after a year and a half of sirens and attacks and worry, I decided a few months’ ago that life has to go on, and we have to leave our house, and carry on as normal as much as possible, without taking crazy risks.
I pray; I ask God to look after us; I give tzedaka nearly every day; I accept I’m not in charge of the world. What else can I do?
I was expecting the Kotel to be a bit of a ghost-town when I got there Friday night, but I was shocked to see it the fullest I’ve sent it for months. I have no idea if it was a solidarity thing or just a lot of people deciding the same things we’d decided, about not staying at home, or whether there was something else going on because it was Adar, but the place was jumping.
It was packed FULL of teenagers of all stripes, soldiers, tourists, plus some of the usual characters, and the singing and dancing was full volume. I prayed a bit, then I went and sat at the back for a few minutes waiting for my husband to finish up, and I felt so grateful that I live in Jerusalem, and in Israel, despite all the Middle East madness.
To be part of this beautiful people that respond to killer tendencies with song, dance, prayer and unity is truly a present. So yes the madness seems to have returned, but with it the growing belief, at least for me, that sooner or later, it will be vanquished for good.
Because the light always makes the darkness disappear in the end.