“Today marks 19 years since God gave me a second chance at life.
I was working in a summer camp in Israel for my third summer in a row (NCSY Kollel), and Thursdays were usually the day that I’d be with our cab driver from morning to night running all over Jerusalem doing errands.
Every time we passed through the center of town around lunchtime, the driver would pull up onto the curb on the corner of Yafo and King George, and I would run into Sbarro’s to grab him a slice of spinach pizza and a diet coke. I’d bring it back into the car for him, and we’d continue on our way.
Thursday August 9, 2001 started off no different.
As I was crossing Yafo Street about to enter Sbarro’s, the driver for no reason whatsoever, ran across the street from where he was waiting for me with his car, grabbed me by the shirt, and told me not to bother going in. He decided that we were too pressed for time and that he was not in the mood for pizza.
That had NEVER happened before. Standing in the middle of the street, I argued with him. I told him it’ll only take me two minutes. Finally, as the light was about to change, I gave in. I ran back across with him and hopped into the car.
We made a right turn onto Strauss towards Geulah, and as we approached the first traffic light (by Bikur Cholim Hospital), we heard a huge explosion.
Just 90 seconds after I was about to walk into Sbarro’s, a terrorist detonated a bomb injuring 130 people and claiming the lives of 15 innocent men, women and children.
We were in such shock, we didn’t say a word to each other for over a week.
There is no way to explain what happened on that day or how I still feel about it until this day. I thank God for sparing me and for giving me a second chance at life. While I have a long way to go until I am a “model Jew,” I hope that I have done some things over the years to make God feel that it was worth His sparing me.
For most Jews, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the days on which they take the chance to introspect. August 9 is MY (additional) day. It’s my annual reminder of my commitment to being a good Jew and to doing my best to make God proud of me.” – Israel Schachter