I am sitting at my laptop as the older boys bounce a ball back and forth safely between themselves, and my heart is stopping to race.
My wife called me at 3:00pm to get the kids right away; there was an explosion at the finish line at the Boston Marathon. The kids go to the Chabad School, New England Hebrew Academy, just a mile or so away from the blasts.
We live in a suburb of Boston, some 15 miles north of the City of Boston, and it is usually a traffic crawl the entire way. Today being a Massachusetts Holiday, Patriots Day, there were thankfully no cars on the road.
The whole way in, driving at speeds I care not mention, my mind kept on going back to my kids. The radio was reporting that there were more bombs found and all I could think of was I hope they are fine. As I crossed the bridge into Boston my cell phone seemed to not be working properly only heightening the anxiety. Thankfully, the phone kicked back in and I saw an email from the school announcing that all the kids were accounted for and safe.
I kept thinking, this stuff doesn’t happen here. After 9/11, though there had been plots and threats, all had been thwarted and no one had been hurt due to terrorism since. And Boston, well it is just safe. Alas, we all have our “reality bites” moments.
After gathering my kids into my car and heading back North, trying to field their thousands of questions, I realized that their world, and mine, won’t ever be the same. The terrible reality that evil exists and can touch them even here at home is heartbreaking.
We associate bombs, sadly, with Israel or Iraq, not Boston. Later, another wise email came from the school nurse; to try to avoid the news and not share too much with the kids so as not to overwhelm ourselves and them. But, the calls and texts kept coming in. Until I heard some positive stories of the greatness of the human spirit and decided that this is a better route to go about when responding to my children.
Rather than focus on how many killed or injured, focus on the people along the parade route who are coming out of their homes to give people water, or food, or a place to rest or stay, since the City was in virtual lock-down and many could not get to their homes or hotels.
An email pops in from Rabbi Posner in Boston, the Chabad center likely closest to the bombing…
The Chabad House and the Posner family are okay, Thank G-d.
1. If anybody is in the area that needs help – a runner/family that needs a place to stay, a hot drink, a hug or wants to daven… whatever.
OUR DOORS ARE OPEN.
2. Thank you so much to all that texted, called, emailed, FB messages to see how we are!
We love you.
Shmuel and Chana
It hit me, this is the appropriate response.
Thank GD everyone is OK, now what can I do to help? We will all get past this, the perpetrator/s will be caught and punished, security will never be the same, we will have to live with the new realities that this event has inevitably thrust upon us.
However ,if we can take the positive message, and if we can convey it to our children, that tragedy while very frightening, is an opportunity to grow and give, rather than cower and run, then at least, as a parent I will give them something strong and positive to hold onto. Perhaps that will be the tool to help them get through this.
May Gd comfort those who have lost loved ones, and may he heal all the injured and we speedily be ushered into the era, where “death will be swallowed up forever, and G-d will wipe away tears from all faces. May we know happy times.
By Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman