Yesterday I took part in a live twitter chat with Maia Sigal Leslau, a victim of the Hebrew University bombing. The terrorist attack took place on July 31st, 2002 at the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria on the Mt. Scopus campus. The Hebrew University was intentionally targeted because it stands as a symbol to the revitalization of the Jewish people and is home to thousands of students from all over the world.
The bomb— a cell phone in a bag on the table of the bustling café, where students gathered mid day to eat a quick lunch or take a much needed break—went off and killed nine people and injured over eighty. One of those nine was my friend Marla Bennett.
I remember the phone call about her death that changed my world forever. I was in complete denial and to this day I have not really accepted her passing. I remember demanding proof that they knew it was her, that they knew she was dead. And even though I got my answer it never felt real.
Yesterday, the opportunity to speak with Maia helped me cope with reality. She personally told me about the bombing from her point of view. She didn’t hear the bomb go off, but she said she knew something was wrong. She was alert and asked her friend to take her bag and call her mother.
Maia survived despite shrapnel piercing her brain. She lost sight in her eye and still has scars, not to mention the emotional scaring. I would think that anyone that survived the bombing would be afraid, angry and have a loss of faith. But not Maia. She is a strong willed young woman, who actually became more religious since the bombing.
Maia is inspiring. She not only inspires me to be more thankful of what I have, but made me realize that if Marla had survived the bombing she too would be like Maia. Marla would be strong and do her best to stay positive in the face of evil. Marla was the nicest person I ever met. Nice as in good intentions, a big heart, a never ending smile and hope that survived her death.
The chat may have been short with 140 characters at a time, but the message is long lasting.
Thank you Maia for your candor.
Marla not a day goes by that I don’t wish you were still alive.
Below please find some of Maia’s comments during the conversation. The twitter chat took place through Hebrew University’s twitter account: @HebrewU (English) and @HebrewU_heb (Hebrew).