The fires that have raged through the Carmel Mountains and Forest area are apparently coming under control. This has been a devastating blow to us. Thousands of dunams destroyed, millions of trees, wildlife, homes, and of course the highest price paid, the lives of 41 men and women.
When I heard about the 40 victims on the bus filled with prison guards that was on its way to help evacuate a prison because the fire was getting closer, I knew something that every Israeli knew, and feared. In a country as tiny as ours 41 is a huge number. No doubt many people would know someone who was connected to one of those killed.
One of the men killed in the bus incident was from a nearby yishuv (suburb). When I got to work this morning, I found out that the man killed was the uncle of one of the children I work with. The child's father is sitting shiva for his brother, who died in a horrific way and I will go to pay my respects at some point during the week. The men and women on that bus came from all over the country, from all walks of life, Jewish and not. We are a country with barely six degrees of separation. Another man on that bus came from a Yishuv called Ginot Shomron. We have several friends who live there--very likely they know this person, a 32-year-old father of five.
I guess my point is the connectedness you feel here. In a country that you can cross in six hours by car across its length, and probably less than two across its width, its impossible not to feel it.
It was only a week ago that Isaac and I traveled with friends to Zichron Yaakov--a stone's throw from where the fire took place. I do not know the area well, but my kids have hiked there and friends tell me it was a beautiful area of Israel, where mountain and sea came together. Here's a picture I found of the area, before the fire:
I can't bare to show you a picture of after.
May the families of the fallen find comfort, may the injured heal quickly from their wounds, and may our charred land recover its beauty.
And, G-d, please send the rains we so desperately await.