This week in Israel: Passover and a Suicide Bombing

Suicide bombing in Tel AViv

I was planning to write this week's post about how Israelis are observing the Passover holiday, which began last Wednesday night with the festival seder meal, but unfortunately there was a suicide bombing this afternoon in Tel Aviv so I'll start with that, followed by some links to posts about the holiday.

The suicide bombing

I happened to be sitting with a friend in a cafe that was quite near the site of the bombing when it occured, and heard the blast. It was a powerful one and sounded much closer than it actually was. Since I work as a freelance journalist I ran off to cover the story; my post about what I saw is here. I also had my camera with me and posted a set of photos here.

Stephanie Fried wrote a touching post about the phone call she received from her worried father, who lives in the United States. She was reminded of a unique experience she had during the Gulf War in 1991 (read her post for details), when the phone lines to Israel were congested for days and her parents had no idea whether she and her siblings were safe from the Scud missiles launched at Israel from Iraq.

And I hung up the phone realizing: Wow. Here they go again. A child in Israel. The worry is back. And the memory of that videotape returned and tears sprung to my eyes. What we put them through inadvertently.

Allison Kaplan Sommer was on vacation in Eilat, and hadn't heard about the bombing when she called me this afternoon just to chat. “So what's going on in the real world?” she asked. She posted about her reaction to my news here.

Imshin‘s husband, Bish, works right near the site of the bombing. He took some photos with his cameraphone and Imshin posted them, together with some of her own observations.

Chayyeisarah writes that the only thing she cannot become accustomed to in Israel is the suicide bombings.

I can't get used to thinking about the people who were eating a falafel one minute, and were on their way to the emergency room the next . . . not because of a traffic accident, or a fire, or some other tragic event that may have been preventable but was at worst a case of negligence . . . and not because they were involved in a bad crowd or were unfortunately associated with evil or troubled people . . . but because they happened to be eating a falafel in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there are people who hate us just that much.

Karen Alkalay-Gut, who posts every day almost without fail, writes that it's hard to find the words today. (scroll down to the April 17 entry).


Jerusalem Gypsy wrote a typically tongue-in-cheek post about the seder she participated in at the home of Orthodox friends. She decided to bring a rather unorthodox Haggada, and her traditional hosts were not terribly amused. But despite their ill-disguised disapproval, the Gypsy enjoyed herself.

It was noisy and fun there. I brought my hand made matzah to the table and read from my Holistic Haggadah by Dr. Michael Kagan. It had alot of touchy-feely stuff to it. Like “feel the salt water as tears running down your cheeks. Free your inner Mitzrayim (Egypt). In Buddhism attachments are the cause of suffering, in Judaism, they are the cause of enslavement…, etc.” And nearly everyone oohh'd and ahh'd at this new Jewish Renewal funky interpretation of the ancient Haggadah, save for about 3 people who clearly weren't interested in all at any interpretations of the text, but preferred to get down to the meal already.

Chayyeisarah writes that she attended the best seder ever this year, at the home of friends who creatively re-enacted the Exodus from Egypt with their small children.

Chanit, who writes a food blog, has posted several gorgeous recipes for traditional Passover dishes, which must – according to Jewish law – be free of any leavened ingredients, or chametz. Her recipes – with photos, reminiscences, explanations and commentary – are here, here and here.

Over at the group blog Jewlicious, the contributors decided to mark the holiday that celebrates the ancient story of the exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt in a rather unique and touching way. They have written some heart-rending posts about various forms of slavery that still exist today, and explain how you can contribute funds to alleviate the suffering of people who live in bondage in the 21st century. These are the slaves of today, as described on Jewlicious: Boys who are sold into bondage to cocoa bean farmers in Ivory Coast; women who are brought to Israel from the former USSR by the Russian mafia to work as sex slaves (this post includes a clip taken from an Israeli investigative news show that did a segment on white slavery in Israel); and another post (actually a very well-written article) here.

And Ernesto, a Phillipine diplomat who was recently assigned to his country's consulate in Tel Aviv, writes about his joyous anticipation of celebrating his first Easter in Israel at St. Peter's Church in Jaffa.


  • We’re more alike then we are the same. The world needs a heavy dose of tolerance. Differences in idealogue or political leanings should end in debate not in the atrocities of a street side cafe. If I don’t understand a group, a culture or a religion then I study and immerse into it. It’s intellectual nourishment, and from the shared connections to how I think it makes me feel closer to the world. I definitely don’t feel angry.

    Haggadah means “telling” from a scriptural commandment to each Jew to “tell your son” about the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt. This comes from the Torah and it lives in the book of Exodus.

  • “According to Professor Charles A. Kimball, chair of the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, the vast majority of Muslims believe that their holy texts forbid suicide. He states “There is only one verse in the Qur’an that contains a phrase related to suicide”, Verse 4:29 of the Qur’an[14]. It reads “O you who believe! Do not consume your wealth in the wrong way-rather through trade mutually agreed to, and do not kill yourselves. Surely God is Merciful toward you”, but some commentators believe that the phrase “do not kill yourselves” is better translated “do not kill each other”, and some translations (e.g. Shakir) reflect that.” Credit to Wikipedia on the comment.

    The challenge across the board is accountability – in countries worldwide committing an aggressive act or murder is a crime resulting in an undesirable punishment such as incarceration or worse. In this case for the very tiny percentage of Moslems worldwide who believe in martrydom for their specific type of cause (of which there are many ranging from territorial/occupied to different beliefs), instead of an undesirable outcome they believe they are going to be off to a better eternal life. So think abundant oasis, casually eating dates and living the good life.

    What if they’re wrong? What if the entire premise that this type of thing is ok for any reason doesn’t deliver the result of the eternal blessed existence in the next life? Devout and commitment are values and strengths. Better to put that same energy into doing good then doing what is clearly bad. Innocent people have brothers, sistsers, mothers, fathers, friends and co-workers. People who depend on them, care for them and will miss them when they are gone. No one has any right to take that away in a purposeful, vengeful and evil way.

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