Archive for March, 2008


Reactions to the shooting

Last night, upon hearing about the horrific terrorist attack (is there any other kind?), I changed my Facebook status to “Ilan is mourning the victims of the terror attack.” this morning, I changed it to “Ilan woke up and realized it wasn’t all just a bad dream. Sometimes, it isn’t.”
This is one of the things we do. Our generation posts the thoughts off the top of our heads in short, concise bits, so our friends know. So, I compiled a list of my friends’ reactions to the shooting last night, as posted in their Facebook status updates. I thought it might be worth sharing these. Feel free to post more in the comments. I will update this post if more come in.
Note that the names are removed to protect privacy, but with a few exceptions, each of these is from a different person:

  • _____ is very angry because of the מצב.
  • _____ is thinking of everyone by Merkaz Harav.
  • _____ thinks its important to still go out tonight. Who’s with me?
  • _____ had been remembering another terrorist attack today, and now this.
  • _____ is feeling a bit numb after hearing the news.
  • _____’s family is all safe.
  • _____ is mad, angry, frustrated, and at a loss. I hate our government!
  • _____ is sad.
  • _____ is welcoming in Adar, and mourning for Jerusalem.
  • _____ is ok.
  • _____ feels transported back to Jerusalem, circa 2001.
  • _____ is wondering how long the Israeli government is going to keep trying to make peace with our enemies instead of throwing them out of Israel!
  • _____ is safe after the terrorist attack, and is sad…………….
  • _____ May Hashem Avenge their Blood.
  • _____ is falling asleep to a lullaby of ambulance sirens.
  • _____ is in pain for her nation.
  • _____ is not able to comprehend.
  • _____ is השם ינקום דמם.
  • _____ is playing david broza to get some clarity.
  • _____ is praying for those hurt by the terrorists in Israel today.
  • _____ is wondering when the terrorism will end… just horrible news…
  • _____ is crying to hashem..
  • _____ weeps for the children who have returned to borders breached by what the universe must be given.
  • _____ is sad and can’t fall asleep. may Hashem avenge their blood.
  • _____ is trying to comprehend how it happened.
  • _____ is wondering why she’s in america.
  • _____ decries the cowardly Jihadist attack on Mercaz HaRav.
  • _____ is waiting for the requisite post-bombing UN cycle of violence statement.
  • _____ Can’t believe what happened tonight. I was scared for the first time EVER to walk around Jerusalem. What is going on here? Anyone in charge here????
  • _____ is excited about [statement of hatred deleted] in the powerful month of Adar Bet. HaShem Yinakem Dmam.
  • _____ is deeply saddened by the shooting in the Jerusalem yeshiva and is disgusted by others rejoicing this.
  • _____ is really upset by the tragic events in Yerushalayim today. Hashem yerachem.
  • _____ is literally sick from looking at the news.
  • _____ is very sad.
  • _____ doesn’t understand why the government is so incompetent.
  • _____ על אלה אני בוכיה.
  • _____ is hurting. She wishes a Shabbat Shalom of Geulah Slemah for ALL KLAL YISREAL!
  • _____ is upset over today’s events.
  • _____ Yochai Lipschitz, 18, of Jerusalem; Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar, 16, of Shiloh; Yonadav Chaim Hirschfeld, 19, of Kochav Hashahar; Neriah Cohen, 15, of Jerusalem, Roe.
  • _____ is wondering what G-D is trying to hint to us on this fateful rosh chodesh adar – that itself is a contradiction in terms!
  • _____ is shocked and sad at the murder of 8 young yeshivah students in Jerusalem by an Arab terrorist. Jews, wake up!!!
  • _____ is looking forward to Shabbat Across America-Together, while Shabbating in Jerusalem, blocks from Yashiva Mercaz HaRav, where 8 Souls were taken from this World.
  • _____ is still trying to comprehend…
  • _____ is mourning with the families.
  • _____ simply has no words.
  • _____ is looking to a peaceful healing shabbat for all of am yisrael…
  • _____: May God protect Israel, since our government certainly can’t.
  • _____ hopes shab will make things better. why dont they get it?!
  • _____ is trying to balance simcha and etzev…
  • _____ is המקום יינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון השם ינקום דמם.


Tonight, a man walked into a yeshiva here in Jerusalem, and shot and killed 8 people, 7 of them teenagers, and wounding dozens of others, 11 of them seriously. They were celebrating the first day of Adar Bet, the happiest month of the year. I don’t have more to say. What can I say? I can remember the fallen, but frankly, that just isn’t enough right now. When there’s a real hurt, a physical pain in the pit of my stomach from this…bedlam, then all of the pretty words or high-minded ideals don’t help. It’s just, sometimes a thing gets broke, can’t be fixed.

Worth at least a dozen words

whiteboard_small.jpgSome days, you look at your work, and you say, “I do that?” Or at least that’s what happens to me.
I work from home. Today, I stepped back and looked at the stuff I mapped out to build the web application I’m working on today. (See left.)
I think maybe I need to get out more.
Or drink more. Or drink less.
Maybe get a trained monkey.

Yeah, trained monkey’s good. I think he should have a hat.
He will have a hat and I shall call him Gerald.

Growing Up

Popular media abounds with cached tropes, with easy, prepackaged ideas that travel in the wake of simple visual or textual cues. A man kicks a beggar and has scary facial hair? Ok, so he’s evil. Another is clean-shaven and helps the beggar? He’s good, and will probably save the world, especially if he’s an orphan and/or was born under mysterious circumstances. You get it. The writers of these works put in cultural reminders, so we know early on how we’re supposed to feel about certain characters. It’s easier than developing them, and the superficial result is the same. Good writers, of course, will be aware of these tropes and use them carefully, or subvert them when useful.

One of the most oft-invoked tropes in coming-of-age stories is the loss of innocence1 as the step that causes a character to grow up. But what do we mean by “loss of innocence?” It’s not “innocence” in the sense of “having done nothing wrong” but in the “naive,” “blissfully ignorant” sense. The idea is that once the character has witnessed or experienced evil, or just tragedy, he or she is somehow an adult. Of course it’s not that simple, but I believe that it is one of those things that reappears so much precisely because it rings so true. We feel the truth of it. What is it, though, about witnessing bad things that causes a person to grow up? I don’t think it’s the comprehension that bad things happen or that they happen without clear justice. It’s the part after that. The part where things are broken. In the short-lived cult-TV series Firefly, there’s a scene where their ship isn’t working, due to a particular part being broken. The captain asks the mechanic, Kaylee, to find some way to fix the ship. Kaylee, who has a deep, almost affectionate connection with the ship, just looks up at him with despair in her eyes, and says, “Sometimes a thing gets broke, can’t be fixed.”

I think that’s the loss of innocence – the recognition that for all your good intentions, even for all your good actions, no matter how hard you try, things go wrong. Things go wrong, and they can be your fault, and there’s no way to make them right again. I imagine that it comes as a bit of a shock to anyone who encounters that late enough in life to understand that all of the storybooks and all of the movies had it wrong. Things don’t always go right, and you don’t even always get a chance at redemption when things go bad. True, it doesn’t always play out that way. Sometimes, you can fix it. But, sometimes, “a thing gets broke, can’t be fixed.”

And that, in part, is what it means to grow up.

  1. No, before any of my friends start getting all worried, let me assure you that I’m fine, and there’s no tragedy that sparked this post. ^