Anxiety and Anger
When Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz (Schwartzie) received a 6:15 a.m. phone call
saying that the World Trade Center had been bombed, he told his caller he’d
been watching too many science fiction movies and advised him to get more
"But then, when I received another eight calls in succession, I knew that it
was serious," Schwartzie told The Journal.
Indeed, the mood today in the Los Angeles Jewish community was one of shock,
sadness and disbelief as people awoke to images of the devastation and
destruction in New York.
"It’s a tough one to try to put into reality, said Gagi Shagalov, proprietor
of Munchies Candy Store on Pico Boulevard. "Thousands of people who didn’t
even know what hit them are totally gone. Sooner or later, every one of us
is going to know of someone who was in there."
Shagalov said he decided to open his store because to keep it closed would
only prove to the terrorists that they had got the better of him. "As much
as I would rather be home now, I feel that I have to be here to let them
know that they can’t do this to us."
In many parts of the community, however, normal life, and people’s plans
were disturbed. "I took my kids to school this morning only to be turned
away at the door, because the school was closed," Schwartzie said. "Then I
had to arrange for extra plainclothes and uniformed security guards at my
High Holy Day service, because nobody will want to come unless they feel
safe there," Schwartzie said, referring to his services at the Chai Center.
Many in the community did not go to work Tuesday. Motty Slodowitz, 32, who
lives in Pico Robertson, stayed home from work so that he could stand guard
at his children’s school in the morning. "I just did not trust that the
school would be able to provide adequate security" he said.
Others’ plans were radically altered. Fairfax residents Douglas and Melissa
Blake found themselves stranded in Los Angeles after their trip to Europe
was canceled. "A friend woke us up at 6:45, and told us to change our plans
because we weren’t going to be leaving," said Melissa. "Our whole day was
planned with our trip in mind and I don’t even know when the airport is
going to reopen."
Many said they hoped the world would now be able to understand the terror
that Israelis go through.
"The world is always condemning Israel let them condemn the U.S. now for
retaliating," said Judy, a bookkeeper from the Fairfax area who preferred
not to give her last name. "I am angry, really pissed off. I think they
should bomb those people who were dancing in the street," she said.
Encino resident Danny Barwald, 40, said the events would have a profound
effect on the American psyche. "I thought that the sense of security and
safeness that America feels in terms of being protected from events in
Israel will be shattered. The sense of innocence that America has will
Indeed, many in the Jewish community saw Tuesday’s terror attacks with an
eye to its effect on the world, and of course, Israel.
"When you hear about terrorist attacks in Israel, and then you go out into
the streets, you really feel that you are mourning alone. But today, the
whole country was feeling the tragedy," said 22-year-old Tally Wolf, from
her job at the Shalom Nature Center in Malibu.
Schwartzie summed the attitude up: "The joke that is going around is that
Sharon called up Bush today and advised him to practice restraint. This is a
great tragedy, but I think it is going to shake up the American people and
make them realize what the Jews have been going through in their little
country in the Middle East."
Most Jews, though, were just trying to come to grips with the magnitude of
the tragedy. "This is a very scary time period," said Nechama Denbo, 27, of
Pico Robertson. "I feel that God is sending us a message, and we just have
to open our eyes to see it."