Post­ed by Amalia Safran

Yes­ter­day marked the 18th anniver­sary of the bomb­ing of the AMIA in the Once neigh­bor­hood of Buenos Aires. After liv­ing in Once for five months, com­mem­o­rat­ing the day was impor­tant to me. I was liv­ing in a res­i­den­cia for my junior year semes­ter abroad just blocks from where the attack took place on July 18, 1994. Only pass­ing the build­ing once — a plain, boxy-gray struc­ture with a large black plaque filled with the 85 names in graf­fi­ti-writ­ing of the peo­ple who died — I still felt a strong incli­na­tion to think about the tragedy at some point dur­ing my day as a way of commemoration.

What is inter­est­ing about this time of year, the three weeks lead­ing up to Tisha B’Av, is that it is also a time of com­mem­o­ra­tion — a time to remem­ber and mourn the events lead­ing up to the destruc­tion of the tem­ples, which took place on the last day of the three weeks. I had only just learned about the AMIA tragedy this year and the coin­ci­dence that it fell dur­ing the three weeks. So, with the anniver­sary of the AMIA bomb­ing and the three weeks of sor­row,” how do we remem­ber and com­mem­o­rate tragedy dur­ing our busy, often over-planned, sum­mer lives?

Incor­po­rat­ing the three weeks of sor­row” into my dai­ly life has proven to be a chal­lenge, as was my per­son­al com­mem­o­ra­tion of the AMIA bomb­ing. Between work and its con­sis­tent­ly chaot­ic com­mute, catch­ing up with friends who I hadn’t seen in months, walk­ing with my fam­i­ly to get ice cream on warm sum­mer nights, hop­ping on trains to get away for the week­ends, and of course bask­ing in air con­di­tion­ing while catch­ing up on tele­vi­sion, it becomes dif­fi­cult to put sum­mer aside and reflect on past tragedies. Not to say my list of sum­mer chores is more impor­tant or a high­er pri­or­i­ty in my life than com­mem­o­ra­tion and reflec­tion, but along with sum­mer­time comes a care-free atti­tude that makes us some­times for­get the real­i­ty, or for­get past impact­ful events.

So between work, friends, fam­i­ly, food, trav­el, and tele­vi­sion, I found time to reflect yes­ter­day. I read a few arti­cles about the AMIA and the memo­r­i­al ser­vice that took place in Buenos Aires, along with some lit­er­a­ture about the three weeks. It put me in a dif­fer­ent state of mind — one that wasn’t con­tem­plat­ing ice cream fla­vors or what to pack for the week­end, but instead a state of mind that made me think, real­ly think, about the tragedies that hap­pened this time of year. I thought about my time in Buenos Aires, my time liv­ing in the Ortho­dox Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty of Once, my time walk­ing past the AMIA, my past sum­mers at con­ser­v­a­tive Jew­ish camp, my expe­ri­ences hear­ing Eichah from campers, my usu­al singing of Hatik­vah at the clos­ing of Tisha B’av, my sum­mer in Israel, my time spent at the West­ern Wall — these all came into my mind as a way of reflec­tion and remem­brance. It was brief. It didn’t fol­low any sort of order or rules, but it was for me.

Com­mem­o­ra­tion can be a dif­fi­cult thing. The three weeks of sor­row” con­sists of fasts, Torah read­ings, and refrain­ing from joy­ous events in order to retain a somber and sor­row­ful state. My time dur­ing the three weeks hasn’t been like that; I have enjoyed people’s com­pa­ny, par­ties, trav­el­ing — I have enjoyed sum­mer. But along with the enjoy­ment of sum­mer, I still want­ed and was able to find a way to com­mem­o­rate on my own, a way that let me take time from the chaos to remem­ber and mourn in a mean­ing­ful way.

Amalia is a stu­dent at Lehigh Uni­ver­si­ty and an intern at the Jew­ish Book Council.