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What Israeli Resilience Can Teach Us After the Boston Marathon Explosions

What Israeli Resilience Can Teach Us After the Boston Marathon Explosions

Following today's explosions at the Boston Marathon, the essential things first, reflective things afterwards: First, if you or your family need us at Shir Tikva, we’re on call and ready to hear from you. If you or someone you love was in Boston at the time of the explosions, please let us know. And if you or your kids want to talk, we’re here for you – always. Please call.

Our hearts go out to all the victims, and our prayers are with all of them.

Now, some reflection:

This all may become moot very quickly. As stories unfold in real-time, I worry that three hours from now something I write now will look very wrong and naive. As I write this, the time is now 5:15 pm, and the reporters are just starting to use the words “bombings” and linking the events at the finish line of the marathon and at the JFK library to the fact that today is “Patriots Day.”

It is also, as the sun goes down, Israel’s Independence Day. (In Israel, it’s already been Yom Ha-Atzmaut for a few hours.) And sadly, Israelis know all too well the feelings that we in Boston are feeling tonight: the vulnerability, the fearfulness, the unknowns… and the defiance.

In Israel, when there’s a terrorist attack, there’s a rhythm that tends to occur:

First, there is a quick reaching-out to friends, neighbors, and family in order to see who is all right, and to make sure our loved ones are accounted for. It occurs to me that this is already happening rapidly on Facebook.

Second: We tend to the victims. When there are dead victims, their bodies are recovered with as much love and respect as possible, and they are buried with honor and dignity.

Third: Everyone watches the news closely, to get all the information as it unfolds – and carefully to discern authentic information from rumor and speculation.

Fourth: There is a ritual the next day, upon the release of the names of the victims. There is communal sense of mourning. Israel is a small country - one community in a time of crisis - where there is zero degrees of separation between families.

Fifth: There is defiance. Stores and restaurants that have been blown up often are repaired and back in business shockingly quickly. This is not psychological denial. There is a desire in the face of terrorism to defiantly return to the rhythms of life.

Again, our hearts go out to the victims. We pray for their healing and their well-being. We will say Kaddish for the dead, we will say Mi Shebeirach for everyone else, including families. Our resolve demands justice from those who would do this to us. And I suspect that in Israeli resilience and independence, there is a model of strength and inspiration to be unbowed in the face of fear – from any sort of thug who would perpetuate such evil upon innocent people.

Rabbi Neal Gold serves Congregation Shir Tikva in Wayland, MA, outside of Boston.

Originally posted at Rabbi Gold's Blog

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