So what do you do when your child experiences terrorism two weeks after her family’s aliyah?

Posted at Sep 22, 2008 5:35 pm

I want to assure everyone that my daughter is fine, just frightened, before I write anything else.
I mentioned my eldest’s school trip to Jerusalem in my last post. Somewhere around ten this evening I received a semi-humorous call from her informing me that she and ten of her new "best friends" were lost somewhere in Jerusalem. I wasn’t overly worried as I could hear high pitched laughter in the background and I knew that half of them were calling the teacher on their cell-phones. My daughter told me she would call again when they were found and added that she was having the best time in the world, and she was now friends with the entire school. (She is the dramatic one in the family).
An hour later I got a very different call from her. "Ema," she was gasping, "Did you hear what happened?"
I paused the movie my husband and I were watching and focused on what she was saying.
"There were two buses of girls.  The other bus, they were behind us and they saw a terrorist shooting. There was an attack in Jerusalem. They saw people shot dead."
How does one process such a call? What does one say? I can’t remember my thoughts at that moment, just the sick feeling in my stomach as I motioned to my husband to check the news. Deep down I hoped that this was a misunderstanding or one of my daughter’s exaggerations. She was on a bus full of hysterical girls after all, and things could have gotten–confused.
"Where are you?" I asked her, as my husband brought up the Haaretz internet page which announced the truth: A Palestinian terrorist had tried to kill pedestrians with his car and had wounded fifteen Israelis, two seriously, just fifteen minutes ago in Jerusalem. 
That was when the phone went dead. 
It took several panicked trials before I reached her again. I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard her voice.
"We’re still in the bus. A lot of the girls are crying," she told me.
"Are you on the road? Are you out of traffic, out of Jerusalem?"
"Yes, we’re out of traffic. I think we’re out of Jerusalem."
"You’ll be fine," I told her, "I’ll see you in a few minutes then, don’t worry."
I got off the phone, stared at my husband for a moment and started to cry. 
When she came home we were both rational and calm, and ready to comfort our extremely agitated 12-year old.  Thankfully, she had been on the first bus and had not seen what her classmates had witnessed, but she had heard their account of the attack.  We talked about what had happened, the nature of terrorism, hatred, and evil.  Most importantly, we reminded her why we were here and what our presence in our homeland means.  I think she understood, and the evening ended with her retelling the "fun" part of the trip, the concert, the dancing and her new friends.
But I cannot tell what impression such an experience will make on her mind, just two weeks after our arrival here and I cannot erase those moments from her memory. I believe this evening has stengthened my resolve and made me more determined than ever to hold on to what I know is right. 
But I am not a twelve year old girl who has felt fear for the first time.

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