When you live in the States, unless you work for an American Jewish communal organization, an American Jewish newspaper (like I did at one point), or a synagogue, you are less than aware of the back-and-forth between terrorists in Israel and the IDF.
Unless there is a bus bombing.
Then, the major news agencies like CNN and MSNBC start paying attention, and if Israel is lucky, the attack gets a minor International news headline somewhere mid-way down the list. Thanks to social media, a few more American Jews might know what’s going on: Perhaps one of their Facebook friends works for an Israel-related non-profit, and perhaps she is travelling on business when a bomb explodes near the Jerusalem central bus station, and perhaps she posts that she “is safe” despite the recent attack.In general, though, if you live in America, you are unaware that anything is amiss right now in Israel. And you are unafraid. And, for the most part, unconcerned.
How do I know? Because of the almost 700 friends I have on Facebook, not one has asked if I am okay following the terrorist attack yesterday in Jerusalem. Not one of my friends posted on my Wall or sent me a message.
You might think this is because I am unpopular. Not so. Despite what my Facebook friends might think about me in real life, they do enjoy interacting with me on Facebook. A month ago, I wrote on my Facebook status update that I thought I saw a UFO flying over my kibbutz one night. About 20 people commented. Even last week, when I told my Facebook friends I wouldn’t be able to attend an adult Purim party due to a fever, I received about ten heartfelt condolences.
My friends care about me, and they check in with me and interact with me frequently on Facebook.
Yet, no one seems to be worried about my condition following the Jerusalem bombing.
You might think this is because I don’t live in Jerusalem, and therefore my friends confidently know I am safe. But, how can that be? I’ve traveled to Jerusalem at least four times since I made Aliyah in December. My husband has been to Jerusalem for a job interview. The bombing occurred at 3 pm in the afternoon. For all anyone knows, my husband or I easily could have been at the bus station waiting for a ride back to HaMovil Junction, the bus stop nearest to our home.
You might think my friends were sure I would never take the bus, and therefore were positive I was not at the bus station when the bomb went off. Not so, either. Just last week, I reported I was waiting for a bus at the Haifa central bus station after trying out an Ulpan class. I subsequently rode the bus home, sharing it with a wide variety of Israeli residents, Jews and Arabs alike.
You might think my friends are not worried about me because they know I am alive and well.
But that’s not what I think.
I don’t think most of my friends even know what happened.
I don’t think my friends, who have been glued to news stations and web sites for a week now following the earthquake, tsunami, and danger of nuclear fallout, have much of an idea that anything scary or dangerous has happened in any near vicinity to me.
Which is good in the sense that I haven’t yet received a call from a worried mother or father asking if we are all okay, and more important, “When we’re moving back to America?” But it’s also very clear evidence to me of what Israeli citizens and olim have been saying for years: Save for Jewish communal professionals, save for a few diehard fans and outspoken opinionated members of the community, American Jews are either clueless (thanks to a hardened and biased American media) or just don’t care.
Which one is it? Where are you, my American Jewish friends?
Where are you, my friends who are Jewish layleaders? My friends who are American rabbis? My friends who send their kids on Birthright? My friends who donate money to kindergartens in Beersheba? Who plan Solomon Schechter fundraisers? Who get drunk on Simchat Torah at that hip Jewish synagogue on the Upper West Side?
Please understand, I am not criticizing you. Until recently, I was you.
But I’m not anymore. Now, I’m the friend you should be checking in on when there is a bus bombing in Jerusalem.
If only you knew it happened.