By Sandi Mann
MY 15-year-old daughter was at Manchester Arena on Monday night.
She was lucky — she and her friends got out unharmed, though she was caught up in the stampede and the panic.
As a mother, I can only feel guilty relief that my daughter is OK. My heart goes out to those tragic parents who were not so lucky.
What do we do now? Terror has come to my hometown, to my city, to my family. I let my daughter go to this concert — she was offered a free ticket from a friend who was given a corporate box an hour before.
She was in the middle of her GCSE exams and I thought it would be good for her mental health to have a night off. The irony is not lost on me.
My family has had a close shave with terror and yet I am determined that we must not change the way we live, the decisions we make and the freedom we have.
We cannot and must not live our lives in fear, for then the cowards who murder children, will have won.
Yes, we must take precautions, we must be more vigilant and we must be aware of the threat around us. But we must live our lives — not to do so would be an insult to those who lost theirs in Manchester this week.
Living in the Jewish community, we are all only too aware of the constant threat of terror.
Every Jewish building has professional guards outside, every event we attend has extra security — sometimes even airport style.
This threat is too much for some; I know of parents who have withdrawn their children from Jewish schools and who won’t attend Jewish events out of fear.
And yet this terror attack happened in the wider community, not the Jewish one.
How far do we go to keep our children safe? We can withdraw them from our Jewish schools, stop going to shul, stay away from concerts and clubs, avoid London, avoid crowds, don’t fly, avoid Israel . . . the list goes on.
But everything we cross off our list as too risky an endeavour, erodes our freedom. Every time we shy away from going somewhere because of fear, sees our world get smaller and smaller.
To live like that is like handing our lives to the cowardly terrorists.
The day after the attack in Manchester, Trump described these monsters as ‘losers’. But to hand them our lives on a plate would make them winners, and we in Manchester and in the Jewish communities of the north, are too strong to allow that.
Instead of cowering away and shutting ourselves off from all that life has to offer, we must fight back.
We in the Jewish community are in a unique position in that we can actually take action ourselves.
We can join the amazing CST and take control by helping to protect our schools, communal buildings and communities.
The morning after my daughter escaped the evil finger of terror, I was patrolling at my school, hi-vis vest on, radio in hand.
This is my way of fighting back, of refusing to bow to terror. I can’t understand why every single parent at my school is not stampeding to join me (you don’t need to be part of CST) to help keep our kids safe.
And this to me is the point. We must do all we can to keep our children and our communities safe. And then get on with living our lives.
I see little point in standing in huddles moaning and fretting, if you are not prepared to do anything about it.
Worrying won’t keep the threat away. You can avoid more and more places and events, but unless you never leave the house, safety can never be assured.
Manchester is in mourning this week and the world joins us as we attend vigils and prayers for those who were murdered or maimed.
For me, it is there but for the grace of God, but embedded deep within my immense gratitude to Hashem for my daughter’s safety, is a determination to carry on, stronger than before.
The terrorist may have broken Manchester this week, but we will fix ourselves and rebuild.
That doesn’t mean we will forget or abandon those who were most affected, but that we will grow as a community that is there for each other in times of need.
The entire community in Manchester, whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian or atheist, has rallied round this week, offering practical and emotional support to those who needed it. And that makes me very proud.
So, let’s grow from this atrocity and do something positive.
Donate blood for the victims, change your Facebook status to ‘I heart Manchester’ in solidarity, attend the vigils.
But within the Jewish communities let’s also fight back with renewed strength; join CST, join your synagogue or school security team or donate funds for extra security measures.
These ‘losers’ want us to live in fear. Well I for one, won’t let them.