A day after the suicide bombing on Moriah Street, hundreds of pupils from schools in the area gathered to mourn their friends. A first encounter with death, pain and loss ironically created a picture of near normality along the sidewalks drying out in the sun after fierce rains. Hearts were drawn on the pavement with memorial candles and graffiti painted on the street with candle wax.
Above a heart shaped out of memorial candles, someone had written "Tom," while someone else had drawn "Smadar." On white notes around a sole white rose on a concrete wall splattered in blood, a teenager had written, "we love you Tal."
Hundreds of children who had grown up all of a sudden stood, silent, or whispering, and in the background the hum of traffic and the eerie passage of a Bus 37.
"If you know one person killed in the bombing, then you know other people who were on the bus as well," says Gil, a friend of Tal Kehrmann, who was murdered in the attack.
"We used to be indifferent to the terrorist attacks, because we were far away from them - they were in Tel Aviv or even at the Matza restaurant (in Haifa)," says another girl.
Children from all the high schools in the Carmel were there. Hugim, Ort Hannah Senesh, which lost two students, Ironi Heh, which also lost two, and the two branches of Ha'reali which together lost three students.
Ha'reali's science and nature school lost Yuval Mendelevitch, 13, and Avigail Leitel, 14. The school day started with a short ceremony. "We took the flag down to half mast, without a military bugle," said the school's head teacher Dr. Zvika Leiter. "One of the teachers read a poem. I spoke for three minutes. At the end we were overwhelmed by tears," he recounts as the tears welled up again.
On Leiter's wall hangs the commandments of educators - "play with the pupils; find time to listen to pupils; give pupils respect; hug pupils; allow pupils to be afraid and to be sad." Now in the horrific reality the school finds itself in, the teachers rely on the same tools. "I hugged them, something I don't usually do," Leiter explained. "Emotionally, we and the pupils are in the same situation. We both lost people. They lost friends, we lost students."
Schools in Israel are well trained in emergency procedures, Leiter says. "We are ready for any scenario. We have lists of psychologists and parents who are psychologists. Everyone has a role and everyone has a replacement."
On Wednesday everything went according to procedure. Emergency lists were pulled out. An emergency headquarters was set up. It was as if that was one of the schools regular tasks - to treat pupils who have been struck by a terrorist attack.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now