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Thursday, October 09, 2003

Cafe Hillel Reopens

L'Chayim! Israelis defy terrorism
from JPost:
Exactly one month after Jerusalem's Cafe Hillel was destroyed by a Palestinian suicide bomber, the popular eaterie in the city's trendy German Colony reopened its doors to the public on Thursday, with patrons pledging their unequivocal support.

Seven people were killed, and scores of others were wounded in the September 9 late-night attack at the cafe, which was teeming with patrons at the time. On Thursday afternoon, the only sign that remained of last month's carnage was several repair men carrying out the final touches on the outside of the cafe, which had been completely redone, and the strict security at its entrance.

"I used to come here every day, and I have been waiting for this reopening," said American-born Yisrael Campbell, as he waited in the take-out line at the cafe Thursday afternoon.

"The food is great, the service is nice and we're hungry," offered two twenty-year-olds, Keren Mizrachi and Sivan Sayag, as they pondered what to order for lunch.

In fact, many of the patrons in the half-full eaterie on its reopening day said that they had come to this particular Cafe Hillel on purpose, as an act of defiance and repudiation of the terrorism.

"There is no way that I would not come here on the day of its reopening," said Rich Brownstein, who moved to Jerusalem this summer from Oregon, and was at the cafe the morning of the attack. "We are here for them," he said motioning to the owners and workers.

"We choose this cafe on purpose in order to strengthen it, and to show that the Nation of Israel is alive," said 19-year-old Avital Shvut, who was having a green garden salad, with her grandmother, Ra'ayah Sabu. Shvut noted that this was the first time she ever ate at a Cafe Hillel.

At the table across from them, 29 year old Yona Kruger was having a coffee with his father, Alan, who was visiting from Canada.

The younger Kruger, a newly discharged soldier and neighborhood resident who served as a doctor, had rushed to the cafe the night of the attack to try to save lives.

"It's very good to see the cafe open again, and nice to see that people are coming back," Kruger said, adding that his parents had especially wanted to visit the newly reopened cafe as part of their trip to Israel.

In a city where nearly everybody knows someone who was either killed or wounded in a Palestinian suicide bombing, the emotional scars were still evident on the faces of some of the cafe's owners, who did not want to talk to the press, even one month after the attack.

Marking the cafe's reopening, a New Jersey-born businessman and neighborhood resident, Martin Lee, said this week that he will pick up the tab for all drinks at the cafe on this Saturday night.

"I think it is crucial that in the face what is going on in the country, people continue to come out, and think positive," Lee said.

A spokesman for Cafe Hillel confirmed that an individual had, on his own initiative, offered to pay for all the drinks ordered this Saturday night to mark the cafe's reopening.
These people obviously haven't been reading American editorials! Am Yisrael Chai!