I wrote this email to a selection of my address book after getting up this morning, September 10, 2003

Friends and family,

I had hoped to write my first big email from Israel in happier circumstances, but you know what i'm like with getting emails written.

Some of you knew within a few moments, while this may be the first thing others of you will have heard. But last night there was a terrorist attack just a little way from where I live at Café Hillel on Emek Refaim - one of my favourite hangouts for evenings in Jerusalem. Emek Refaim is in a great area of Jerusalem, modern and attractive with some of the lowest levels of political and religious tensions in Jeruslem, and home to many English-speaking immigrants. and Café Hillel is (or was) the best example of this. A shiny, non-Starbucksy, moderately-priced coffee and food outlet, with inside and outside seating. Glass-fronted, stylised mock-Parisian branding, waiters in black logo'd t-shirts and red aprons. and, unlike its closest rival on Emek Refaim, it has kashrut supervsion, which means that it is patronised by both the religious and the secular.

This being the case, it wasn't surprising that, on the evening of my third day of full yeshiva study, I was there at the time it was attacked, drinking my second cup of tea with a big bunch of nana (spearmint) in it, with Naomi, a friend of mine.

I think we were very near to the blast, perhaps 5 or 6 metres, but I think the walls of the cafe must have blocked it from where we were sitting at the front of the outdoors section, as we didn't feel it, apart from some of the heat. but we saw the burst of fire and heard the boom. I tripped over whilst running away from the scene, and scraped my hands on shattered glass, and so after being taken in by a nearby family and having called Naomi's cousin, we went to hospital for my hands and Naomi's shock to be treated.

so, apart from little bits of glass in my hands and an after-concert effect in one ear, i'm physically fine. I think I'm mentally fine too. I didn't really see anything apart from the flash of fire and people running, so not too many bad images are going round in my head.

A big thankyou to all those who called, IM'ed and emailed (or sent their doctor son-in- law who works at the hospital) last night to check up on me and send their best wishes, as well as my flatmates who stayed up until early this morning with me. It really meant a huge deal to me.

of course, this changes nothing. whether i'm safe by 3m or by a few days or by two streets along, etc. (as is anyone who goes on a bus, the centre of town, the market, cafes, major roads...) makes little difference to me, as the future dangers remain the same. this is how i understand the world. and i've been crossing the busy road outside the yeshiva too.

and peace will come. someday soon, young palestinians won't be taken in by the murderous doctrines of Hamas and their kind, if only because they will have nothing to gain and a full life in their own land to lose.

so stay in touch, and be safe.

l'shanah briyah, tovah, umetukah tikatevu
(may you be written for a healthy, good and sweet year)