Loss of a Classmate, Hannah Bladon
This week's blog post will be different from my usual collection of photos because I wanted to pay tribute to a friend and classmate, Hannah Bladon, who I met this semester at Rothberg. Hannah was killed last Friday in a stabbing attack on the Jerusalem metro, and the whole Rothberg community has been reeling. However, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy, our study abroad family has come together to comfort one another, and that is what I want to focus on in this post, as opposed to dwelling on the details of the attack.
I was in Greece for our spring break when I found out, but the Madrichim (our RAs) immediately organized a meeting for people still on campus to come together and comfort one another as we found out more. In the days following, I received emails and phone calls from professors and advisors alike -- reaching out in a typical Israeli way with offers of coffee and a meal. Professors opened their homes to students over the following weekend, giving us a place to escape from the dorms and be around a family. On Monday afternoon, the second to last day of break, the local families from the French Hill neighborhood hosted a picnic in the student village with food and friends and dozens of small children running around blowing bubbles and playing catch. For the first time since we had heard about Hannah's death, the student village seemed to come alive with laughter once again.
On Wednesday we returned to classes where our Hebrew teachers started the lesson by talking about Hannah and checking in with all of us. In conversation class, our initial partner dialogues revolved around checking up on each other and asking how we were feeling. Later that day we had a meeting with the whole undergraduate exchange program to hear updates about security and a future memorial service. Currently the memory book students are filling for Hannah's parents sits outside the Student Life office in Rothberg and the line to write in it is always at least 3 people long.
Personally, I was honored to be contacted by Hannah's roommates and asked to paint a portrait of Hannah for her parents as a gift. They asked me to portray her as they will remember her: sitting on the couch in their common room with a cat on her lap and her favorite music playing from her computer. I'd like to think that we will all remember Hannah not as a victim of a senseless tragedy, but as we knew her life: as a dedicated student who was determined to see and learn and experience as much of Jerusalem (and pet as many cats!) as she possibly could in her time abroad.