Kinder Sculpture

 

May 2004 Journal

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Letter from Israel

It seemed like any other Thursday morning. I was on my way to work slightly later than usual. The traffic was not inordinately heavy, nor were the other drivers unusually obnoxious. Although the rain had stopped, clouds still obscured the sky. Later that day the hotly-disputed prisoner-of-war exchange with the Palestinians would take place and Israel would receive the bodies of its soldiers. Everybody had an opinion on the subject, but most people regarded it as a necessary evil.

Waiting for the traffic lights to change, we stopped not far from that Jerusalem landmark, Angel's Bakery, at the junction with Eagle's Wings Road. The street's poetic name belies its somewhat grimy commercial and semi-industrial nature. Suddenly a scooter with a white box on the pillion emblazoned with a red Star of David sped past us, its siren wailing. Beneath the emblem were the Hebrew letters ZAKA, denoting the group of orthodox volunteers who rush to every disaster spot to remove the bodies and remains of the dead.

'I don't like the look of that', I said to my passenger, and switched on the radio just in time to hear the nine o'clock news. It was worse than I had feared. A suicide bomber had managed to blow himself up in a bus in the very heart of Jerusalem A symphony of emergency vehicle sirens ensued. We soon heard that the bus was one my passenger used almost daily. The explosion had occurred at a busy junction which I often passed in the course of my week.

At that moment we did not yet know the full extent of the damage or the numbers killed and wounded. But like everyone who lives in Jerusalem, and in fact anywhere in Israel, we were reminded once again of the precariousness of our existence.
Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

previous article:A sorry tale
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