When I was living in America, each time there was a terrorist attack in Israel, I was seized with an awful feeling that screamed, "How can I be in America? There was a terrorist attack in Israel. How can I be here going on with my regular life. I need to DO something."
And so I moved to Israel. A big part of my decision to move here was to lend support to those people in Israel who were struggling under a threat of terror. I felt that by placing myself in Israel, I send a message to God that I care about this land and I am doing my part to hasten the ingathering of the exiles.
That worked for a while. But now, five years later as the freshness of my aliyah has worn off, it doesn't work anymore.
Yesterday, I was at work having a pretty rough day. My boss was receiving the Presidential Award for Volunteerism and I had a lot to do to prepare for the event. It was the kind of day where there was a lot of pressure and nothing was going right. Then, I heard about the attack in the center of Jerusalem. One wild terrorist attacked a busload of people in Jerusalem and smashed a number of cars and their drivers. Three people were killed and 53 were injured.
"Noooo!!" screamed a voice in my head. "Not again! We can't live like this! God please help us!" Then I took a deep breath and returned to work. After all, terrorist or not, I had work to do.
Last night I arrived at the President's house to see 12 outstanding members of our nation honored for their dedication to helping people.
* Shoshana Agajani received the award for being the founder of volunteerism in Beersheva
* Gila Zeidel received the award for her support to children with sight problems and their families. Ms. Zeidel was then serenaded by her blind daughter. The room sang along to Naomi Shemer''s classic "For All of these Things" (I cried)
* Atara Chaimowitz received the award for creating a safe home for children with the illness SMA.
* The organization Chasdei Naomi received the award for their help in distributing food to the needy, particularly widows and those who are visiting people in the hospital.
* LEAD received the award for developing young leadership in Israel
* YEDID received the award for their work in social welfare. One of Yedid''s 1,000 volunteers spoke about how she came asking for help and ended up learning that giving back to her community is one of the best things she can do to help herself.
* Amin Kasem received the award for his work to preserve Beduin communities and build bridges between Beduins and Jews.
* Benjamin Kriti received the award for work in helping families at risk all over the country.
* Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon received the award for helping evacuees from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria to return to the workforce.
* Levi Luyav, age 17, received the award for overcoming his personal difficulties and caring for an elderly woman.
* And in the most poignant moment of the ceremony, the parents and siblings of Omri Gilor, received the award and a standing ovation on behalf of Omri. Omri was critically injured in hiking accident while on vacation with his family. During the 2 months before his death, he made the decision to become an organ donor. In his death, he saved many lives. (I cried again)
I can continue to raise my family and build my community and work in places that aim to better this country.
Sitting under the canopy, with 1,000 other attendees, I realized that as a citizen of this country, there is something I can do as a response to terror. I can continue to raise my family and build my community and work in places that aim to better this country. One of the speakers explained that it is easy to look at the terror attacks and think that this is what Israel is all about. But really, we know that the strength of our people is the individuals who were honored with this award. People who make a decision to make a difference in this country and help make our nation stronger.
I felt proud to be at the ceremony and proud to be connected to people who won the award. A terrorist attacked civilians in downtown Jerusalem and 1,000 people at that ceremony, me included, celebrated 12 people who have changed thousands of lives. There is goodness, health and wellness in this nation. I'm going to keep on focusing on the light.
I pray that those who were injured will be healed, the families of those who were killed will be comforted and those who were helped by the recipients will grow stronger and continue to spread their light.