It was only one and a half years ago that our daughter Chani missed the bus and came home on a different bus. The bus she missed was shot up by a terrorist at the French Hill interchange. The following day, after suffering through the agony of not know where Chani was for about an hour, we went and purchased cellphones for all the older kids. Today, one of those cellphones called home at 5:27 this afternoon. My wife took the call and could hardly hear our 14 and a half year old son Yisrael. It was noisy and sirens were sounding from all directions. At the same time, the ambulance in our neighborhood, parked just outside of our building, sounded his siren and was off. She handed me the phone and said to me that Yisrael was in town, on his way home from his Yeshiva in the Old City and there was an attack.
I immediately heard from his voice that he was somewhat panicked and disoriented and very forcefully instructed him to leave the area immediately and to walk toward the Machane Yehuda market and to continue toward the central bus station and not to stop until he got there. I then told my kids to try to contact him in another 5 minutes, even though the cellphone systems generally go down from overuse in these situations and to tell him to jump into any taxi and get home. They managed to get through after trying many times.
Yisrael just finished a CPR and first aid course and passed his test with flying colors. He was standing about 15 meters away, just around the corner when the bus exploded. The explosion was deafening and he felt the shock waves even around the corner. His immediate reaction was that he could, having taken this course, help in some way. He ran toward the bus, but he quickly realized that both his lack of experience and in his state of utter shock at what he was looking at, there was little he could do.
That any child has to live with this for the rest of his life is a frightening thought. The fact that tonight many wounded are struggling for survival, that families will be burying their dead, and that countless others, like Yisrael will be traumatized for a long time is just another sad chapter in both the distant and recent history of the Jewish people. Here we are, in our own land being slaughtered like sheep. When will the nation of Israel wake up? When will it's government wake up? When will we, as a people, begin to look toward the heavens and improve our deeds and conduct towards each other?
Well, the small silver lining in the very dark cloud. We anxiously were awaiting Yisrael's arrival and had money ready to pay the taxi driver. When he pulled up and my wife went to pay him, he said "how can I possibly take money for this?" We insisted on paying him anyway, but the fact was that this taxi driver, undoubtedly effected like all taxi drivers by the economic turndown and lack of tourism, simply looked upon what he had done, collecting our son and two others and delivering them home, as a chesed, and act of kindness. Perhaps if we could all take that example, things will improve for all of us.