From Strength to Strength


The following article appeared in Huffington Post on July 18, 2013.

FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

I cannot believe it has been a decade -- often it feels like just yesterday. Ten years ago somebody tried to murder me. Here I am today, celebrating this milestone of survival, watching the hustle and bustle of life going on in the exact spot where I was screaming, bloody and burnt by a terrorist. Everything in my life changed on that day. I am proud to look back and know that I chose to fight hate with love and that I devote my life to peace, not revenge.

On June 11, 2003, on what felt like an extraordinarily uneventful day, I was headed to meet a friend for dinner in the German Colony of Jerusalem on Bus #14. When I close my eyes, the events of that day are still fresh in my mind. I remember boarding the crowded bus, standing until I saw two empty seats in the front section. Instead of taking the aisle seat, I moved into the seat next to the window. This choice saved my life. I remember the sounds of crushing metal and feeling the shockwave as the explosion tore through the bus. I immediately shut my eyes, an instinct that saved my sight. I remember the moment of eerie silence that followed the blast -- a silence so frightening in its revelation that innocent people were dead in every seat around me. Then I screamed. I screamed so loud that a stranger, who had heard the blast from three blocks away, ran toward the burning mangled bus and pulled me out. I will never forget the elderly Israeli woman who stood by my side holding me as I was burned, bleeding and frightened. I will never forget the kindness and love that was shown to me by those whom I had never met. On that day, more than 100 of us were injured on and off the bus and 16 innocent people were murdered, including Alan Beer, an American originally from Cleveland, Ohio.

On June 11, 2013, the 10-year anniversary of the bombing, I stood in Jerusalem at Davidka where the attack took place.  I didn't think I could get back on a bus, but I knew it was important to do something to commemorate the day.  Instead, I boarded the train that now runs through the street where the attack took place.   As I rode the train, I reflected upon the lessons I've learned these past 10 years.

I have learned that through every bad situation there is much good to be found. I've met some of the most incredible survivors around the world -- they've become my family. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought and I can handle more than I ever imagined. I've realized that the world doesn't owe me anything, that you truly do get what you give. Perhaps my most significant revelation is the importance of love and kindness; to combat hate with tenacity and courage.

After surviving a terrorist attack, working to change the world is the only way I know how to live my life.

  Sarri Singer is the Founder and Director of Strength to Strength, a non-profit organization that unites victims of terrorism from across the globe.