Yesterday was a terrible day. In our immediate area there are four yishuvim (small towns). There was a funeral in each and every one of them yesterday. In Efrat, Alon Shvut and Elazar, the people buried members of their communities who were killed in a terrible head-on collision. Here in Neve Daniel we buried a 43 year old man who died just after arriving in Israel with his wife and triplets to pursue their dream of Aliyah.
It was one of those days that makes you tired to be alive….where you have knots in your stomach all day, trying to come up for air where there doesn’t seem to be any.
While I was thinking about these four people yesterday, none of whom I knew personally, I was trying to put into words what was making me so very sad. I never had the honor of meeting any of the deceased, so what was I so depressed about?
I came to a conclusion for myself, and then read a similar explanation in the evening from my dear friend Ruti Mizrachi that validated my hypothesis. Most people have a community of family and friends that is quite small. If there is a car accident on Santa Monica Blvd in Los Angeles or on 355 in Maryland, you don’t usually sit by the computer screen praying that the names won’t be ones you know. The chances are slim that they will be.
Here, however, our collective community is so tight-knit and symbiotic, that you know, as you check for those names, that even if you don’t personally end up recognizing one of them, your co-workers will and your neighbors might.
The benefits of living a life like ours are innumerable. The price we pay for membership to such a club, however, is collective and unadulterated pain when something happens in the area. And there are thousands of people here in Gush Etzion, which means that the pain of a three person car accident and the untimely death of one father reverberates far beyond what one would normally expect.
Four people died…none of whom I knew…and yet everyone I know in Neve Daniel was mourning yesterday; everyone I know at work from Alon Shvut was grieving; everyone I spoke to in the evening from Efrat was distraught.
The collective bond that we share as we build our lives here together is powerful and radiant; but it also means that the collective grief is searing and poignant beyond words.
May the families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may we know only happy times ahead.