Everything was strange in Boston’s heavily Jewish suburbs on Friday, as it was for residents throughout the area.
But as armies of police combed the area seeking the second suspect in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing, some Jews experienced something more than their non-Jewish neighbors — sparks, in some cases, of earlier traumas.
“We have lived in Israel or been in places where Jews have been bombed or threatened with terror,” said Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow, referring to some members of her community.
Paasche-Orlow spoke while restricted to her home in Newton, Mass. — one of the placid, middle-class suburbs where, along with Boston itself, residents have been ordered to stay inside as police pursue their suspect, who is armed. Among those she serves and with whom she lives and works, Paasche-Orlow explained, “There’s a very different response than your Boston natives who — the closest they’ve come is 9/11.”
The fearful lockdown ended Friday evening when police arrested the suspect in a boat parked in a backyard in the suburb of Watertown, not far from the scene of a shootout hours earlier.
Paasche-Orlow, who heads the chaplaincy department at Hebrew SeniorLife, a network of elder care centers in the Boston area, expressed particular concern about the effect the terrorism attack and police dragnet might be having on some of her nursing home residents who harbor traumatic memories from having survived the Holocaust.
Rabbi Claudia Kreiman, spiritual leader of Temple Beth Zion, a Conservative synagogue in Brookline, Mass., has other memories evoked by the recent terrorist attack, in which three people died and dozens were injured. Kreiman moved to Boston from Argentina, where her mother was killed in the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 people.