It Could Happen to Us….
I am sitting in Max Brenner’s, slowly picking at a molten chocolate cake with hot fudge, whip cream, strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and the mini chocolate shake that accompanies the cake. I am savoring every bite, enjoying my family, all of whom are surrounding me at the table. I have boys sticking their forks into my cake, fighting for bites, and dipping cookies and brownies into the white chocolate fondue that smolders on the table in front of me. I could eat everything in sight. If only I wouldn’t have to unzip my jeans afterwards. It is a happy moment, as Max Brenner’s is one of our celebration places. It is my boys’ destination of choice to celebrate birthdays, national holidays, and academic milestones.
But as I take in the intense smell of chocolate that saturates the room, and the laughter that spreads through the air, I feel a deep sadness. For I am sitting in Max Brenner’s in Manhattan. I am 5,656 miles away from the Max Brenner’s Café in Tel Aviv, Israel. And it is only days after four people were murdered in a terrorist attack at Max Brenner’s Café. I am not hiding under a table, or carrying bloody injured or dead bodies. I am not one of the four innocent people, enjoying their fondues, molten lava cakes, chocolate milkshakes…who was shot down by a radical terrorist using a makeshift submachine gun who want to murder Israelis. Because they exist.
It would be impossible to fully understand what motivates terrorists. We know that they have been taught to welcome death for the cause as they believe that they will be redeemed. We know that they want to destroy those who do not adhere to their doctrine. We know that they are murderers.
However, we know little or nothing of the victims. We don’t even know why they were there. Were they parents? Were they falling in love over fondue? Were they in the midst of an important business meeting? Or were they at Max Brenner’s for a celebration, just like our family? Today, all we know is that they are gone.
These days, mass shootings and terrorist attacks are becoming devastatingly commonplace. The NRA is still the most powerful lobby in Washington, and gun control seems to be the only law our president can’t push through Congress. While you can count on a day of posts on Facebook for some national tragedies, most people seem to barely react to these mass murders. Especially when they happen in Israel. Still, I am surprised that Americans did not feel a kinship, a twinge of fear, a sense of “this could happen to us” when they heard that the attack took place at Max Brenner’s Café.
So I sit here, in Manhattan, over five thousand miles away from Tel Aviv, Israel. For the moment everything is peaceful and joyful. I know that I am blessed to have the sweet taste of chocolate melting in my mouth. My family is laughing, snapping selfies with fondue and chocolate mustaches. We are planning our next stop on our day in Manhattan, fighting over where to go next, deciding whether we need to bring home a few chocolate syringes. We are carefree for the moment. And I hope and pray that no one walks in and starts shooting at us. Simply because we exist.