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Looking for a dog walker.

When is the American Embassy coming to Beit Shemesh?

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I scan the posts in my community email list. I feel like I almost can’t comprehend them. Who cares about a dog walker? Who can think about hiring a house cleaner? And when the present screams so loudly, how can anyone contemplate planning for a far away visit from the American Embassy?

Four people – rabbis davening in their tefillin and taleisim – were butchered this morning in their shul in Har Nof, and many more hurt, some seriously. How can we just go on with the mundane details of our lives? How can we even be involved in the trivialities, so overshadowed by real life and death occurrences, right here?

I am unable to function normally. I picture the scene in my mind. I think of the widows, the orphans, the blood.

What do I do? What should I do? I daven. I say tehillim. I call my friends in Har Nof to make sure they are okay, and my family in the U.S. to assure them that we’re okay. We don’t work or live in Jerusalem, but it seems the news of “terror in Israel” strikes fear in the hearts of all who have people they care about living here.

I live in Ramat Beit Shemesh, about a forty-minute drive from Jerusalem. Our neighborhood is similar to Har Nof – quiet, largely Anglo, yeshivish. We even have hills and stairs like Har Nof. Most striking, though, is the sense here, as in Har Nof, that our neighborhoods are quiet.

One of our friends in Har Nof is a dietician. When I called her today, she told me that a client from Tel Aviv called her last week and was hesitant to come to Jerusalem due to escalating Arab violence. “Oh, don’t worry about Har Nof,” my friend Leah reassured her client. “We’re far from the Old City. It’s very, very quiet here.”

It was.

And it’s very, very quiet in Ramat Beit Shemesh. Now. But I don’t think for a moment that we’re immune. But I like to think that we are.

At my son’s school, the boys said tehillim today, and the Rosh Yeshiva spoke. My son is seventeen; he didn’t want to talk about what happened, or give any details of the Rosh Yeshiva’s words of chizuk. My son had planned to go to Jerusalem today to the Magen David Adom office, to turn in some papers. He recently passed his tests to qualify to work as an ambulance volunteer, a popular avocation for Israeli high school students. The final step was bringing in some forms. I texted him, and asked him not to go. He wasn’t happy, but he complied with my request. “Remember this for next time,” he texted back – meaning, I’m doing what you’re asking now, so give me a little credit when next time I balk.

My fifteen-year-old daughter is on a three-day school trip to the North. The girls left on schedule, and hiked as planned. The school decided that terrorists would not dictate their students’ agenda. They determined to follow their original itinerary, and walk the trails of Eretz Yisrael, to the Kinneret, the Banyas, and Mount Hermon. This evening the girls gathered for tehillim and singing.

News services are blaring reports. Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly condemned the murders, and world leaders who have not come out with a greater sense of horror about the murder of Jews during prayer. Shuls across the country convened special prayer gatherings.

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Jolie Greiff is a freelance writer and community social worker. She lives with her family in Ramat Beit Shemesh.