The Mother We Know Now // We’re insulated from other people’s pain—until we aren’t

By Naama Heller

It’s morning, time to wake everyone up, get them dressed, feed them breakfast and prepare lunches. 

The first thing I hear about what happened is in a text from America: The roads are closed because of a suspected terror attack. Stay safe. 

I check the news a short time later. Information is trickling in: A suspected bombing at the entrance to the city, only a neighborhood away. My heart stops, and I am instantly transported back 20 years to the First Intifada. Bombings are a trauma from which my generation has yet to recover, a terror that reawakens my nervous system. Thankfully, they have become less frequent over the past few years, so my kids don’t know what it’s like. I say a prayer. 

I send my girls off to school and decide to tell my 13-year-old son the news; he’s going to hear about it in school anyway. I’ve made peace with the fact that it’s better to prepare him. He asks if there are any casualties. I answer truthfully that we don’t know yet. I drop my boys off at school and notice that the guard is on the street, and he’s not the only one. There are numerous security guards of all types clearly visible. I am simultaneously grateful and worried.

I check my text messages and see that my various family chats are asking for check-ins. I check in for myself and my family, reporting that we are all okay. I try to contact my parents but get no answer. Same thing with my 19-year-old nephew, who is here for the year to learn in yeshivah. I know that this is what happens whenever there’s an attack. The lines are swamped, and phone calls and texts don’t go through as they should. I try to calm my nerves. There is no reason why any of my family members would be waiting for a bus at the site of the attacks. 

On my morning errand, I check the news again. Two bombings, multiple casualties. Some people are complaining about how difficult it was to get into the city while others are asking about the victims. There is wariness in the air, a feeling with which we are unfortunately familiar. I try my nephew again; his family in America is frantic. No answer. No answer from my parents either. I will myself to breathe. Finally, my nephew calls. He just finished davening Shacharis. What’s up? I tell him there’s been an attack. He hasn’t heard anything about it. 

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