Pia Levine is a 20 year old, New Jersey native who survived a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem a year ago. She has since enrolled in Yeshiva University’s Stern College, and recently returned to Israel to participate in the Jerusalem Half Marathon and to close a circle.
Last month I returned to Israel to run in my second Jerusalem Half Marathon. I was hoping that this time it would be very different than my first race- and it was.
On March 23, 2011, I was sitting on a Jerusalem bus two days before I was scheduled to run my first Jerusalem Half Marathon, when I thought that my life was over. The sounds of thunder and little pebbles hitting the windshield of a car and the shaking of an earthquake, it was an explosion. As I looked to my right I could see the glass of the windows and doors shattering. I could hear people screaming. I thought soon the bus would be engulfed in flames and I would be burned alive. Luckily, nothing physically happened to me, I was alive although many around me were injured. I knew however that my life would be changed forever because I was now victim of a terrorist attack.
Although I was able to walk away from the attack, I was in shock and I was afraid yet I still wanted to participate in the Half Marathon. I know it was crazy but with the help of One Family Fund’s amazing Co-vice Chairperson Chantal Belzberg, who took me to the hospital to be treated for shock, I ran the Jerusalem Half Marathon in 2:10, something that only hours before seemed impossible. I am still not sure how I accomplished this and can honestly say that I don’t remember even running the race.
The day after the marathon, I returned home to New Jersey and I was contacted by Michelle Napell, of One Family who convinced me that I needed to have something positive to focus on and so I joined Team One Family and signed up for the NYC triathlon. The triathlon was a great experience but I knew that the race that I really wanted and needed to do was the Jerusalem Half Marathon. This year’s Marathon wouldn’t just be another race, but a chance for me to finally come to terms with what happened to me.
And so, after a year of anxiety and anticipation the day had finally come for me to board the plane and return to Israel. Plane rides had become difficult because turbulent flights mimicked the sounds and feelings I experienced on that fateful day. It was far from easy for me, but once I
curled up in my seat, I relaxed and slept for the majority of the flight. I spent the first few days with my brother, at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, but I knew that on Sunday I was returning to Jerusalem.
It was the one year anniversary of the attack that I had survived and a “Meal of Thanks” was scheduled at the One Family Fund Center in my honor. Sunday wasn’t just about returning to Jerusalem to celebrate, it also meant taking a bus. A bus that one year ago trapped me, and made me continually question my safety. Despite my trembling knees and tears swelling in my eyes, I did it! I got on a bus and traveled to Jerusalem, a city that I love.
The rest of the week in Jerusalem allowed me to do the same things I did the year before, shopping, visiting friends and relatives, etc., but this time nothing happened. I reached each of my destinations safely. I even re-enacted the fateful day of the attack, taking that same bus, to that same bus stop, standing where the bomb had detonated, thanking G-d for my life that he so easily could have taken from me.
I was almost ready to put the past behind me and focus on this year’s Jerusalem Marathon. Michelle and my brother both planned on running with me, providing support so that I wouldn’t be afraid. On March 16th 2012, not only did we all completed the Half Marathon in 2:58 (quite a bit slower than my time last year), but I was able to face my fears, show the terrorists that they cannot terrorize me to keep me away, because when I crossed that finish line I came full circle, and not even a life threatening experience is going to keep me away from the place the I love, Israel.
Please join us on may 3rd AND MEET PIA AND LEARN MORRE ABOUT ONEFAMILY WHICH EMPOWERS VICTIMS OF TERROR AND THEIR FAMILIES TO REBUILD their SHATTERED LIVES.
Israel’s Victims of Terror
Cost: FREE – Registration is required.
May 03, 2012—07:30 PM to 09:00 PM
Hebrew College, Berenson Hall, 160 Herrick Road,
Newton, MA 02459