16 years ago today, God gave me a second chance at life.
I was working in a summer camp in Israel for my third summer in a row, and Thursdays were usually the day that I’d be with our cab driver from morning to night running all over Jerusalem doing errands.
Every time we passed through the center of town around lunchtime, the driver would pull up onto the curb on the corner of Yafo and King George, and I would run into Sbarros to grab him a slice of spinach pizza and a diet coke. I’d bring it back into the car for him, and we’d continue on our way.
Thursday August 9, 2001 started off no different.
As I was crossing Yafo Street about to enter Sbarros Pizza, the driver, for no reason whatsoever, ran across the street from where he was waiting for me with his car, grabbed me by the shirt, and told me not to bother going in. He decided that we were too pressed for time and that he was not in the mood for pizza.
That had NEVER happened before. Standing in the middle of the street, I argued with him. I told him it’ll only take me two minutes. Finally, as the light was about to change, I gave in. I crossed back with him and got into his car.
We made a right turn onto Strauss towards Geulah, and as we approached the first traffic light (by Bikur Cholim Hospital), we heard a huge explosion.
Just 90 seconds after I was about to walk into Sbarros, a terrorist detonated a bomb injuring 130 people and claiming the lives of 15 innocent men, women and children.
There is no way to explain what happened on that day or how I still feel about it until this day. I thank God for sparing me and for giving me a second chance at life. While I’m FAR from being perfect, I hope that I have done things over the years to make God feel that it was worth it.
Sometimes, we can easily see God’s hand. Other times, as it must be for those who were injured or for those who lost loved ones on that day, we are left not knowing. We are left without answers. We are left grappling for faith in the dark.
I am certain about one thing though: God is great and every day of life is a gift.
August 9 is my annual reminder of my commitment to being a good Jew and to making God proud of me.