|Our daughter Malki on the left, in an embrace with|
Michal, her very close friend. The two girls
are buried side-by-side here in Jerusalem
Some 640 years later, in the year 70, it was the turn of the Roman empire to conquer Israel and for the second and last time the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. This time, some two million Jews were killed; a million more went into an exile that lasted many centuries. An independent Jewish nation in its own land did not arise again until the establishment of modern Israel 65 years ago.
So even as most Jews breathe a sigh of relief with the end of the fast, in our home we prepare ourselves for the annual pilgrimage to Malki's grave and the public commemoration of the anniversary (called azkara in Hebrew) of her murder.
It simply isn’t so.
Here is what the friends actually do. Every summer for the past 12 years, the graduating group at Malki's youth organization (it’s called EZRA) sits down and organizes a public fun fair and bazaar. It runs from mid afternoon until late at night, and it takes place in a small and pleasant public park just near where we live on Jerusalem’s north side. A second version takes place in Maale Adumim, a desert community on Jerusalem's eastern edge where Malki was a youth leader in the last year of her short life.
By the evening hours of that day, we already knew that Malki and her friend Michal had both been inside Sbarro that afternoon. But we did not know their fate for some time. In fact, it was 2 o'clock the following morning before the friends and families learned what had been done to Malki.
The agony of that evening remains etched in our memories, greatly sharpened by what had kept most of us glued to our televisions throughout the afternoon and evening leading up to it. That's because this was the night of September 11, 2001, or 9/11 as we now call it.
It’s not so obvious. They’re busy kids at the end of their final year of high school. The boys are weeks or months away from starting their army service, so they probably are grappling with complicated thoughts. Most of the girls will be starting their national service (most girls of religious orientation do this in place of army service, but some do go into the military) and are aware of the challenges ahead.
Still, when they take time out to do something as a cohort of friends, a collective action, it’s about charity and remembering and – their choice of word – love. Should that be obvious?
The strength of a society that knows how to remember is something to behold. It is a privilege to be living in its midst.
- Note 1: Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that this post is not very different from one we published here a year ago. To them, we extend our apologies.
- Note 2: Anyone interested in knowing the times and locations of this week’s two memorial charity fairs (one in Jerusalem, one in Maale Adumim), and details of the annual memorial service at Jerusalem's Har Tamir cemetery in memory of Malki and Michal (set for Sunday August 17, 2014, at 5 pm), is welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be glad to provide the information.