In Memoriam: Marla Bennett, z”l
Posted by Oyster on August 5, 2008
It has now been over 6 years since the horrific suicide bombing of the Hebrew University’s Mt. Scopus (Har Tzofim) campus in Jerusalem on July 31st, 2002. I can still recall the sequence of events on that morning after, when the news hit. It had been a horrible year for me at school, one filled with staying glued to the news (NYTimes, Ha’aretz, JPost) about the relentless attacks against Israel, and having to deal with non-stop anti-Zionist agitation at school, and a recent surge in Antisemitism (four Jews were beaten up within the year in Berkeley). So it wasn’t at all odd that I should find myself reading about the latest peegu’ah (terror attack) on Ha’aretz while starting my work day. What piqued my interest about this one (a sad statement that one should be inundated with so many terrorist attack headlines that you begin to differentiate between them) was that it took place at a university; the first to my knowledge. As my eyes sullenly glided over the names of the victims listed at the bottom of the article, I froze.
A chill went down my spine. The room felt like it dropped to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. I had the surreal sensation that I wasn’t fully awake. I fooled myself with fantasies that it was a mere coincidence, that the Marla Bennett that I knew from Hillel and the Berkeley Bayit (Jewish student co-operative housing) must not be in Israel at the time, or spelled her last name differently. With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I emailed all of my close friends that knew Marla, with the link to the article, where I wrote, “Please G-d tell me that its not our Marla”.
I immediately went downstairs to my co-worker’s office, a friend of mine who was also active at Hillel and once was close with Marla. I didn’t know what to say. I had my tongue in my throat. He lead me through the winding passages of Boalt Law School to short-cut our route to the Berkeley Hillel, where people were starting to gather.
And then I knew it was a cruel, cruel reality that I had awoken to that morning. Marla was gone. The words that I mustered up the nerve to say a few days later at her memorial service in the upstairs chapel of the Berkeley Hillel are a timeless truth in honor of her, “Marla was one of the people who was so friendly and welcoming to all of the new students at Hillel, and made them feel at home. Both for me at Hillel and at the Berkeley Bayit, Marla made to feel at ease and worked hard to create a sense of community. And for that me and other new students would be forever grateful.”
Baruch Dayan Emet.
Please take a look at these testimonials to Marla on other sites:
- Zionist.org: Statement on the Death of Marla Bennett, z”l
- Louis Rose Society
- San Diego Jewish Journal: Marla’s Neshama
- Hillel Activist Marla Bennett Commemorated in the Congressional Record
- Marla Bennett Remembered
- J Weekly: Tears, smiles at dedication of Marla Bennett garden
- These Normal Stories: A few words about our cousin Marla
- J Weekly: Marla Bennett recalled as ‘martyr for peace’
- LA Times: ‘This Struggle is Worthwhile’ by Marla Bennett
- Katamon Journal: Day of Chesed, Day of Terrorism
- Terror Attack on Campus: Letter from a Survivor