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One Week Later
by Judy Lash Balint
February 4, 2004

The shiva week is over. For the families of the eleven victims of the #19 bus bomb the initial mourning period draws to a close. The rituals of mourning ratchet down a few notches for the next 30 days, and even further over the next 11 months, but the real pain of living without a father, sister, daughter, husband, son or brother has only just begun.

On the surface, the speed with which the city returns to "normal" is almost obscene. The area of the horror is cleaned with lightning speed, leaving only two wreaths and a score of memorial candles at the site. People are back waiting at the #19 bus stop with no visible signs of discomfort. Politics dominates the news again.

But beneath the surface, this attack seems to have had a particularly jarring effect on many of us. Like Caf� Hillel, last September, this one occurred on our turf, everyone knows someone killed or injured. In countless conversations this past week, friends have expressed their profound feelings of grief, loss, depression, resignation and helplessness.

For one, a nurse at Hadassah Hospital who rides the 19 to work every day, it was the swift discovery that the son of a colleague lay in a ward upstairs with "moderate" injuries�the loss of an eye, limited hearing and shrapnel all over the place. Another friend, who was walking a block away when the bus blew and saw everything, has had trouble doing anything except sleep all week.

Someone else was surprised to find herself so upset over the realization that one 23 year-old victim shared her rather unusual last name. I was shaken to discover that father of seven, Chezi Goldberg, 42, an e-mail acquaintance, was supposed to be the third member of my Hebrew conversation class that started this week. It's the severing of a life in full swing that's so jarring.

Driving a couple of American guests around town at the beginning of the week, I realize that there's almost nowhere to go that doesn't harbor a reminder of the terror we've endured. Here Sbarros; there Caf� Moment, the #4 bus stop on Jaffa Road, the site of the stabbing in front of the Anglican School, Caf� Hillel, Ben Yehuda Mall, Hebrew U, the shoe store next to my coffee bar where the owner's wife was murdered in a bus bombing etc. etc

It's becoming increasingly difficult to lift oneself out of the reality of the effects of Arab terror. Especially this week when the lop-sided body/prisoner exchange takes place and our prime minister decides to give the appearance of rewarding terror by announcing his plans to remove thousands of Jews from their homes.

This shiva week is over, but who knows what next week will bring?