Caffeinated musings on my place within Judaism, feminism and community. Pontification on political and social topics. Definitely not decaf.

30 July 2006

No Words

People say all the time, "I thought it could never happen here." And then it does.

I'm left in that painful, speechless, clueless zone. I'm standing there now, trying to make sense of what happened just before Shabbat here in Latteland. If you haven’t heard what’s happened, read here.

It was one of those crazy afternoons. DH, child #1 and I were just at my office ready to collect child #2 from daycare across the street. We were heading out of town to go 200 miles to the south to be with family for Shabbat and the weekend.

And then DH – the Jewish professional – got the call. He swore and paled. I heard the words "shooting" and "Federation." And I just assumed it was in some other city.

It was in my town.

Of course we headed back to his office, our phones immediately ringing off the hook. The press, both local and national, other community leaders, rabbis and more. He fought to keep up and keep abreast of the developing tragedy. The person was still at large and the scene was unfolding.

So what does one do in this situation? DH held up multiple phones and sat at his desk (when not pacing) emailing and answering the deluge. I put my PR hat back on and wrote up a press release based on the little I knew. Oh, and I found candy and chocolate, dried fruit and soda and tried to ply the kids and keep them quiet in the chaos.

DH joined community leaders to stand vigil. He was just having lunch with two of the victims only a few hours earlier at the site. We knew each of the victims and he was especially close with several.

Shortly after candlelighting – at least I think so since time became a blurr – I dropped DH at the hospital and took the girls home. We didn't bring in Shabbat as we normally do but somehow, just being together, sitting on the bed reading stories and letting them know that we were going to make sure they were safe felt right.

DH stumbled in at nearly 4 AM and the media and community leaders began calling at 7. National officials, major networks, local reporters. It was a zoo and DH stepped back into it an hour later.

I attempted to keep the children focused on our regular routine. We had our cereal and got ready to walk to shul. Child #1 kept asking all sorts of questions, which I tried to answer in an age appropriate way and child #2 just kept calling for "abba."

Shul was, understandably, packed. We were supposed to be having a celebratory kiddush luncheon. Instead people huddled together and spoke quietly about the victims. In a small community, and amongst my friends, everybody knows everybody.

DH continued to work like a maniac all day and into the night. If he got more than three hours' sleep over both nights I'll be surprised.

I've tried to do my best to help him field press inquiries, read over and rewrite statements he's drafted, run interference and pass him notes and make hand signals to keep him focused and on point when speaking to assembled crowds and reporters.

And now what? We wait to make sure those injured have a complete recovery. We gather on Monday to say goodbye to one of the victims. We begin to think about our community’s healing – and our longer-term plans for our collective security.

As we struggle through these next few days that are "within the straits" (bein hametzarim), what else can we do? Should we do?

We should hug our children, grasp the outstretched hands of our friends and look to the future. What else can we do? Sadly, we must recognize that it can – and it does – happen here – and we must work together to do our best to ensure that it won’t happen again. It’s important to remember Kol Yisrael aravim zeh bazeh.

Hamakom yinechem otam.


Blogger elf said...

I couldn't believe the news either, but I'm pretty far away. Monstrous.

May God console you and your community.


Blogger Chana said...

This is so frightening - there's no reason why it couldn't happen here either. CAIR just had a "rally" on Friday in front of the federal building downtown.

I hope the survivors have a refuah shleimah. May G-d comfort you in your sorrow.


Anonymous Sharon from NY said...

My deepest condolences to you, your husband and the entire community on the loss of a community leader and the injury of 5 others, at the hand of a mad man. May G-d console you among all the other- all too recent - mourners IN Israel and OF Zion and Jerusalem. (I fee certain Hashem will forgive my editing of the traditional words)I am from NY nad remember the shock and pain that followed 9-11 all too well. Virtual hugs to you and yours.


Blogger Limey2001 said...

As the Belzer Rebbe told one of the victims family in 9/11
"no words, no words......"

Virtual Hugs

Seattle we are with you


Blogger JH said...

Our hearts pour out for you, your family, and the whole Seattle community. A true tragedy.


Blogger StepIma said...

It's so scary - I didn't find out about it until after shabbos (was caught up in preparations and didn't have the news on - or maybe it happened after shabbos started), so it took a long time for the news to sink in... that it happened here, and in how random a place (why there? why them?)

My heart goes out to all the victims and their families... and to you and your family and all those touched by it. I pray that this will be the last tragedy of its kind


Blogger Scraps said...

I also didn't hear about it until after Shabbos. I know how horrible and scary it feels to have something like that happen so close to home--a shul in my hometown was firebombed at the beginning of the intifada. Thank G-d, no one was hurt in our case, so it wasn't nearly as horrifying and painful, but it's still scary to have that realization that "yes, it CAN happen here".

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this vicious attack and their families.



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