Mangled metal and scattered limbs have a way of changing one's perspective.
On a warm night in Jerusa-lem, my friends and I sat at Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim Street, sipping coffee and beer, enjoying the glorious freedom of the Israeli drinking age of 18. We Americans were happy to be away from home and eager to explore the culture of a new city.
The next night, on Tuesday, Sept. 9, a suicide bomber ripped Cafe Hillel apart, killing seven and wounding dozens. The gut-wrenching images from the scene flashed across the television screen, and I struggled to keep my eyes open. The explosion had reduced the cafe's chic exterior to rubble. Israelis do not censor news footage; I could see blood on the walls and the outlines of bodies on the street. While I could barely watch, the paramedics did not flinch; they had witnessed similar scenes many times before.
Like thousands of others college-age Americans, my three friends and I were backpacking through Europe. We came straight from our year of study at yeshivas in Israel, and our travels had one important difference: We were eating kosher.