Monday, February 4, 2008

My Moment of Fame, part IV

Bomb Doesn't Shake Woman's Resolve
American-Turned-Israeli Recovering After Suicide Attack

By Bill Broadway
Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, April 18, 2002; Page A14

Each time there was a suicide bombing in Israel, Gila Weiss would e-mail her friends in Washington to tell them she was all right. "I'm okay. Don't you worry," she would say, assuring them that she stayed away from malls, pizza parlors, coffee shops and other recent bombing targets.

That e-mail didn't come after Friday's open-air attack at Mahane Yehuda market in central Jerusalem, said Lisa Bleier, 30, a lawyer in the District. Instead, Bleier and more than 60 others on Weiss's Yahoo list learned from a friend Sunday that Weiss, 31, had been wounded in the blast and was in the intensive care unit at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. Six people died in the explosion, touched off by a young Palestinian woman who stepped off a bus onto the crowded street. Dozens were wounded. Weiss, who moved to Israel from Rockville last year, suffered shrapnel wounds to the chest and face and was in danger of losing her sight, said hospital spokeswoman Barbara Sofer.

For more than two days, her identity was unknown. It was only after worried friends began traveling from hospital to hospital that they found her, Sofer said. Because Weiss was unconscious and her face was swollen and bandaged, her roommate was able to recognize her only from the distinctive brown-pink nail polish on her toes.

Last night, Weiss's condition had improved, her father, Fred Weiss, said in a telephone interview from the hospital. Fred Weiss, a pediatric cardiologist who worked at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in the 1980s before moving his family to Pennsylvania, said his daughter was fully conscious, in "pretty good spirits," and --after two operations -- regaining some sight in both eyes.She recalls almost everything about the incident, which started with her going to the market bakery to buy cake for a Shabbat dinner with friends, he said.

"She did not see the bomber or the flash, but she does remember hearing something and going down," said Fred Weiss, who flew to Israel on Tuesday. "She remembers not being able to see.. . and feeling her body to make sure she had all her body parts. "Since then, he said, she's "only been thinking in terms of getting out of the hospital" so she can resume studying to take the Israeli equivalent of the CPA exam.

His daughter, whose legal name is Jennifer but who prefers her Hebrew name Gila, grew up in Gaithersburg and worked several years as an accountant, most recently at the Bethesda firm McGladrey & Pullen. She joined Adas Israel Congregation in Northwest Washington andimmediately became involved in the activities of the congregation, said Rabbi Avis Miller. "Gila was radiant and vibrant and had what my father called lichtige punim, a 'light-filled face,' " Miller said. She also was a leader in the 6,000-member local chapter of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, which raises funds for two hospitals in Israel -- including the one where Weiss was taken last week.

Last year, Weiss decided to make aliyah -- a Hebrew phrase meaning immigration to Israel -- and took a job at an accounting firm in Jerusalem. Fred Weiss said it is unclear how long his daughter will remain in the hospital. Additional surgery is likely. What is certain, he said with a father's concern, is that she has no intention of returning to the United States. She gave him the sameresponse offered to friends who had asked before the bombing when she was coming home."Israel is my home," she said.

Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.
© 2002 The Washington Post Company


Unknown said...

My Russian colleagues, when they find out I have American citizenship are always dumbfounded. To many of them, the "promised land" is the USA. They can't understand why I stay here. My answer is always the same: "This is home". I am usually met with uncomprehending looks.
My middle son was born at the height of the Pali suicide campaign. We called him Oz meaning fortitude. This is from the biblical passage "Oz yiten l'amo, Hashem yevarech et amo b'shalom": "He (the Lord) will give his people fortitude, the Lord with bless his people with peace".
The first part is right, we're still waiting for the second.

Anonymous said...

You grew up in Gaithersburg?? I've actually been there twice, both times as part of a group from my high school AFS club. We stayed down there for a few days, and a group from Gaithersburg came up to our school for a few days. Small world!

shiny said...

I've been following this blog for a while now, and I got chills re-reading the very Washington Post article I read years back. Although I had fallen back from involvement in the Adas Minyan, I was still shocked to hear that the events in the media had a face of someone with whom I went to shul.

Gila said...

Quietus--the Russians I have met all seem to understand where I am coming from. The Israelis--about 50/50--some think I am crazy and some agree with me completely.

Liza--What is AFS?

Mike--okay--my curiousity is officially piqued. I know you?


Anonymous said...

American Field Service. It's an international exchange student organization. In our high school, we had the AFS club, which was essentially just an international club for both foreign exchange students as well as local students who were interested in the whole international thing.