Friday, November 28, 2008

Mumbai through our children's eyes

I'll admit I'm having difficulty making sense of this week's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. I can't wrap my head around the complete disregard for human life, the hatred that runs so deep within those who commit these acts that all else becomes irrelevant.

I felt the same way after 9/11, and virtually every other terrorist strike since. But this one had a certain rawness about it. I can't get it out of my head that the Chabad House, an oasis of Judaism in the middle of a massive city, a place run by a gentle family of emissaries who were following their calling to help others, was deliberately targeted, that Jews were killed as part of a larger, unfathomably immense tragedy whose victims all seemed to be hunted because of who they were. That a rabbi and his wife - so much like the rabbi of our city's Chabad House, and his wife, who teaches our daughter - were gunned down in cold blood.

We talked about it with the kids at dinner tonight, trying to make sense of that which makes no sense. Trying to explain why some people don't subscribe to the same fundamentals of humanity that they do. Trying to help them understand why now more than ever, they need to hold on to who they are and never let go.

On Friday nights, we welcome the Jewish Shabbat (Sabbath) in by saying Kiddush, a blessing on wine that give us a chance to reflect on the week and prepare for the day ahead. I'm not especially observant. I could stand to attend synagogue more often, and I figure I'd navigate the prayers more easily if I had more practice. But my wife and I feel strongly about raising our kids in a Jewish home. They know and appreciate the traditions that make us who we are. They understand how our history has shaped us, and why it's our responsibility to carry those lessons with us in everything we do.

So as we sat around the table, listening to them recite the blessings, we realized how blessed we were to even have this moment. That no one came into our house this week and tore our world apart.

But just the fact that they could have. That it could happen here as easily as it happened in Mumbai, New York, London, Istanbul, Madrid, virtually every major centre across Europe and so many other places. It sent a chill down my spine. Tonight we had to explain to our kids that there are people out there who will hurt them because of who they are. And the refrains of "never again" once again seem to be falling on deaf ears.

There are no words to explain how sick it made me feel.

24 comments:

Vodka Mom said...

I'm with you on this strange feeling. As I thought about my trek through a department store today, I caught a tv show about a man who went to Haiti to retrieve his aunt. People are living in tents, and hungry. That's like that ALL OVER THE WORLD. ANd here we are, trying to find a good deal in a department store. Kind of made me sick.

Vodka Mom said...

was I first? FIRST???

All This Trouble... said...

I am thinking of your family and mine and every family around the world that has been impacted by these recent attacks.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I am sick about it, too. Hasn't the world learned how pointless it is to target people who aren't like you? This is one lesson, I think, that we Jews know well: violence against others serves no purpose.

Yet it continues. Against us. And I just don't get why.

Martha said...

I have stayed away from the news, I just can't stand to watch. This is one scary world that we live in these days Carmi. It's a hard time to be rasing children - we don't want to scare them but we have to educate them so they are prepared. We can no longer sleep well if we lie and tell our children there are no such things as monsters.

It doesn't matter if we attend church or attend synagogue, it's what we teach at home, from what we believe and what we've learned that counts. It's the only hope we have in the world today.

Beverly said...

I grieve with you.

jill said...

my 17 year old and i were just sitting here trying to wrap our minds around world events. from people dying in holiday stampedes being the headlining story to the tragedy in India. his righteous anger over the stupidity of it all gives me hope that there are young people who have been taught well. who will remember and who will have the courage to stand for what's right.

and then i come here and am blessed that your family is talking also.

praying......

sage said...

My daughter, who is 10, has talked to me several times about this incident. I think you were wise to discuss such incidents in the context of faith--a faith that really doesn't have answers to evil, but a reminder of God's abiding presence in the face of it. I'm reminded of Wiesel's short book "Night" Blessings to you and your family, my friend.

marcia@joyismygoal said...

I too feel the heaviness of the reality of terrorists increasing and the different faces it takes... and the faces they take from the earth ...such hate taking away individuals who live and serve in so much love.
Hate cannot conquer, we cannot live in constant fear, but we will continue in love,faith, preparedness and watchfulness.. We shall refuse to let our fears take away our lives .. I am still living

mamie said...

Beautifully written, Carmi.

I have a daughter who lives in NYC and I do not want to live in fear for her. But when something like Mumbai happens (my other daughters have had tea at one of the hotels that was attacked) fear rises up and cannot be quieted.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

cw2smom said...

Carmi, It's just tragic! A horrifying situation and so unneccessary! Even after working in our state's prison system I am still amazed at what we humans can do to one another! And..then our shopping incidents today...all in the name of a bargain? Here in California we had two people killed inside a Toys R Us over some Black Friday incentive! It's incredible. I hope the retailers will rethink their position on offering those very few loss leaders to get people in their stores and risking lives. I do not do crowds and I am so glad of that! My shopping will be online for the most part! Blessings to you and yours! Lisa

bobbie said...

I spent most of Thanksgiving Day watching CNN - something I never do, but I could not seem to turn it off. I emailed another blogger who lives in Mumbai. He was fine, thank God. It is beyond comprehension.

Jeremiah Andrews said...

I'm sorry you had to have this discussion with your children. But you love your family more than life itself and you live according to the traditions. "Write these words upon your hearts and on the lintels of your home, commit them to memory to remind us that Never Again, should this happen again..."

I am proud that you took the time to explain. Sad even today that there are those who would kill peaceful faithful people because of ideology. but what else is new?

We are safe where we are at the moment. Pray G-d.

Jeremy

Becky said...

I grieve with you as well. Such a sad, sad 3 days of events in Mumbai.This has affected the whole world Im sure.

Robin said...

It's too horrifying for words. That poor baby turns two today without his parents. His second birthday and his whole world has been destroyed. He'll never remember his parents. It's just too awful.

Heidi said...

Prayers... saying prayers for peace with you, my friend.

sister AE said...

Though so much larger in scale, this somehow has echoes for me of the Munich Olympics. I was about 9 and although my parents didn't really explain what happened to me, I was catching on to the complicated nature of people separating others into groups for bad purposes.

I don't understand how anyone can think that slaughtering ANY people can lead to a satisfactory resolution.

lissa said...

I, too, thought of that little boy awakening an orphan on his 2nd birthday. And yet, he survived, a symbol of strength and defiance. Still, I hope the community raising him will never LET him forget his parents. He will have manufactured memories, but memories nonetheless.

Besides 9/11, which still plays in my mind's eye with the two planes hitting those towers, the other terrorist attacks we have heard of and witnessed via media, are horror-striking events.

The Mumbai attacks have a cold-blooded personal feeling to them - people deliberately targeted, by name or by nationality, and that makes me shudder.

Then add to that the kids who look to us for explanation when we have none, and it is just an overwhelming time. I grieve with you, Carmi, but I celebrate life too - the blessings we're given we must never take for granted. Ever. I know you don't. I know I won't.

There but for the grace of God go we...

swile67 said...

tragic, unfathomable events...I'm so glad you talk about this to your children even though it is a tough subject ...they are seeing their parents try to turn this tragedy into something positive...enjoy the rest of your Sabbath Day!

Julie said...

The senselessness of this attack, I just can't understand it. How can people be so cruel? What could possibly be wrong with people they could inflict this type of wrong on the human race? It is a sad thing.

Hilary said...

It's unfathomable. Sadly, the many things that shape the human condition include those that create such ugliness. It's everywhere, all the time, in varying scales and degrees. I'm glad you're communicating with your kids. You can't buffer them from the harsh realities but at least they know that most of the caring world is in alliance with them. That has to help.

Christy said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Thank-you for sharing it. I am thinking of everyone involved. It is so incomprehensible. So hard to understand. And so scary.

Moi said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/world/asia/03jews.html?pagewanted=1&th&emc=th

Pinky said...

Carmi, I can't make sense of evil. It's as unreachable as the overwhelming love of G-d. Thankfully, His love is greater.
I pray that your children, and you, feel His love and protection over your home now and always.