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Peeguah: The word new Israeli immigrants know far too well

By  Eliana Rudee, Originally published in Jewish Journal

Yesterday, I checked out of my Jerusalem ulpan, an intensive five-month Hebrew program. Originally from Seattle, I moved to Israel five months ago, with a group of many other young immigrants. During the past five months, we learned Hebrew and acquainted ourselves with our new home and its culture.

As I handed in my keys, I heard the office manager say to another woman something about a “peeguah,” a word I had to learn far too early in my new life in Israel. Peeguah means “attack” in Hebrew.

Apparently there was an attack just then in Jerusalem, and the woman had gotten a notification on her phone. Attacks in Jerusalem seem to be a daily occurrence since the rise of violence in September.

I continued to pack up my belongings in preparation for heading out of the ulpan for the last time. I used my phone to order a taxi, and the name of an Arab driver popped up.

As the taxi pulled up, the driver asked where I wanted to go. “City Center,” I said. The driver looked at me, concerned, and said in Hebrew, “I can’t go there. There was just an attack (peeguah) there. The roads are closed.” Worried by the location of the attack, I called my boyfriend, who I knew was in the area at that time. He was safe, and informed us that the roads had opened again.

As we drove from ulpan to the City Center, we listened to the radio. The taxi driver did not comment on the radio announcements. We heard that there was a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem near the Chords Bridge. An Arab terrorist from Beit Hanina rammed his car into a bus station, injuring 14 people including a 15-month-old infant who was seriously wounded and a 65-year-old woman who was moderately wounded. The terrorist rammed into the bus stop, exited the car with an ax, and was then shot dead.

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