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May 23, 2003 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Course in Israel received a brief but valuable e-mail. It
said simply, "Dear Parents, At approximately 5:30 p.m.
Israel time, a terrorist incident occurred at the entrance
to a mall in the northern town of Afula. Initial reports
indicate a number of causalities. All Year Course partic-
ipants are accounted for."
For Bobbie Lewis of Oak Park, the concise note
brought much relief. Her daughter, Miriam, is on the
staff of the Hadassah-sponsored Zionist youth move-
ment program. "Sometimes (an e-mail) is the first place
we hear of an incident," Bobbie Lewis said.
"Every time there is an attack in Israel, the parents
are notified right away before the news would pick up
on it in the States," Miriam Lewis said. "E-mails
include details of the attack and state that everyone is
safe and accounted for, including me."
The task of keeping tabs on everyone is made easier
because "all participants are required to have a cell
phone — and to have it on at all times," Bobbie Lewis
said.
For Miriam, who will make a4ah this summer, her
first thought upon hearing of terror attacks is of the
young adults she supervises. "That's my main priority,"
she said. She said her friends in Israel make a point of
e-mailinc, "all their friends in the States whenever there
is a major attack in Israel to let them know they are
fine."
Bobbie Lewis is comfortable with the "extremely
cautious" Young Judaea leadership. "Participants can-
not ride buses within Jerusalem and when they take
taxis they cannot go through east Jerusalem. They can-
not go to any cafe, restaurant or other entertainment
venue that doesn't have a guard at the door," she said.
While Bobbie Lewis knows her daughter is involved
in a program with strict and enforced security limits,
she undoubtedly has not forgotten the scares during
Miriam's 1998-99 school year spent at Hebrew
University in Jerusalem. "There were two attacks that
hit close to home," Miriam remembered. "One at a
bus stop on the way to school and the other at
Machane Yehudah [a marketplace in Jerusalem] on a
Friday morning when I planned to go there later in the
day."
"I always make sure my family in Oak Park knows
where I am," said Yaakov Schwartz, 19, who made
aliyah in March. "I always tell my family if I am leav-
ing Jerusalem so they know where I am. When I was
in Detroit, I always made a point of calling my friends
in Israel when I heard of a bombing to make sure
everyone was OK."

Close To Home

When Riva Magid of Oak Park heard on the radio
about Monday's suicide bombing in Afula, she did
what she always does: She called her son in Tel Aviv.
"When I hear every time, I call him," said Magid,
who came to Detroit from the former Soviet Union in
1991. "Every time, he always says, 'Everything is OK.'"
Monday's bombing, however, hit closer to home.
Leo Magid, his wife Lam, and their two children,
Stella, 25, and Jane, 20, moved to Tel Aviv from
Afula two years ago.
Under normal circumstances, Magid regularly calls
her son every two days. But terrorism generates extra
calls. "When I hear about a terror act, I feel very bad
for everyone in Israel — all the Jews," she said.

Magid's older brother lives in Acco, and she has
many cousins and friends from her native Moldova in
Israel. In the eight years her son and his family lived in
Afula, Magid visited three times. Monday's bombing
"was not far from their old apartment."
"Almost everybody I know was almost at a suicide
bombing," said Yaakov Schwartz. "Some friends were
at their youth hostel down the street from Mike's Place
bar in Tel Aviv when the bomb went off last month.
We all try to be careful, but we all worry about each
other.
Sometimes, the Bars become so close to reality that
only a visit home will cure them.
"When things got really bad here a few months ago
— and everybody was bringing out their gas masks and
sealing rooms, I decided to go home for a while," said
Sara Luger of a mid-school year trip to West
Bloomfield. "I thought it was a time to be home with
my family in case something happened in Israel — or
in case something happened at home." Luger has since
rejoined her classmates.

Arik Cheshin

Memorials Mark Violence

Sometimes a feeling of helplessness becomes an act
of solidarity. In joining the Hadassah-sponsored,
young adult, pro-Israel Hamagshimim, a group of
U-M students have made it their focus to organize
memorial vigils in memory of victims each time a
suicide bomber strikes Israelis.
"They are held whenever there is an attack on inno-
cent civilians," said Rachel Roth of Brookline, Mass.,
who has organized the twilight vigils with Avi Jacobson
of Chevy Chase, Md., and Arik Cheshin of Ann Arbor.
They've held five gatherings since beginning the proj-
ect several months ago, including one Monday night.

"I am always struck with the decorum, respect and
sorrow of the atmosphere," Roth said. "Stepping from
the constant jostling of campus life into a moment of
silence and candlelight is appropriately moving. These
moments are conducive to thinking about and
mourning the souls that were snuffed out."
She worked for Magen David Adom (the Israeli
"Red Cross") last summer and knows others who
still work there.
"It never fails to fill me with fear seeing my
friends rushing about in uniform on TV," Roth said.
"Also, with many close friends living in Israel, every
bombing brings home the idea that it could have
been them, hurt. The fact that every person injured
or killed was targeted just because they were making
Israel a reality makes me feel a familial sort of
responsibility and a deep sense of personal loss in
seeing their pain."

From Israel To Ann Arbor

"My wife, Sarit, and I moved to the U.S. [from
Petach Tikvah, translated as "the opening of hope"]
to study," said Israeli-born Arik Cheshin, an organ-
izer of the vigils. Both he and his wife are U-M stu-
dents, as was Cheshin's mother, Michigan-native
Elaine Iden Cheshin, who made aliyah after she
graduated. Arik Cheshin is an eighth-generation
Jerusalemite on his father's side.
With plans to return to Israel after graduation, the
Cheshins have strong ties to their family and friends
there.
"Every time I hear about another attack, my heart
twitches and my whole body shivers," he said. "I feel
horrified, scared, shocked and mostly sad and disap-
pointed. It is hard to go on with a daily life routine
when things like this happen, even when they,
unfortunately, become routine."
His first course of action when hearing of a terror
attack is to get as much information as possible —
use the Internet, listen to Israeli radio, watch TV
and call home.
"If it happens in a place where I know I have friends
and relatives, I try to call," he said. "Thank God, I
have not received any phone calls about people I
know. I hope never to receive this kind of message."
He remained safe during his service in the Israeli
army, but says, "Emotionally, whenever there is an
attack, I feel like I am a part of it. I see the sights
and hear the sounds and feel the hurt."
Cheshin calls organizing the vigils "an opportunity
to give respect to those who were murdered just
because they were Israelis, just because they were at
the wrong place at the wrong time." He knows every
attack could involve someone he knows personally.
"It is important for us not to get desensitized. We
need to show how shocked we are each time," he said.
"We end every vigil with the hope it will be the last."

Parental Pride

Members of P'NAI (Parents of North American
Israelis) are ardent Zionists who have children living
in Israel.
"We have a tremendous bond — no matter what
the particular political outlook — we have this
TERROR'S TOLL on page 22

5/23

2003

17

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