Yoni Jesner
September 22, 2002 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Yoni Jesner was a 19-year-old Jewish seminary student from Glasgow, Scotland, studying in Israel. He was fatally wounded in Thursday's bus bombing in Tel Aviv, but his family donated one of his kidneys to save the life of an eight-year-old girl. Her name is Yasmin Abu Ramila, and she is Palestinian.
posted by mr_crash_davis (32 comments total)
In church today, a friend was talking about an incident that happened on his mission (we're Mormon) in Philadelphia. He related an incident in which he and his companion were mugged, and had the stuffing beaten out of them. That's a common enough story for missionaries. The part that got me, though, was when he said that sometime later they ran into the same two guys that mugged them. He didn't run. He didn't fight. He sat down with them and talked to them. They talked about their lives, their ambitions, their goals, their beliefs. He learned from them, and they learned from him. It was a tremendous experience all around. I got that same impression from this story, just hours later. Makes me wonder if this world isn't half bad after all.
posted by oissubke at 6:29 PM on September 22, 2002

And one other thing (since nobody else is posting yet). I'm sure that many are going to be calling this man a hero, etc., etc., etc., and I just want to say that I'm sick of that nonsense.

He's not a hero. He's what every single human being on this earth ought to be. He ought to be the rule, not the exception. When we treat people that do great things as somehow extraordinary, the values they tried to exemplify never make it to the status of "ordinary", which is where they need to be if the world is ever going to change.

So please keep that in mind, and instead of thinking "Wow, I wish I was a great guy like he was", try thinking "Why am I not a great guy like he was, and how can I change that?"
posted by oissubke at 6:42 PM on September 22, 2002

Agree, oissubke. On the other hand, this happens more often than you might imagine.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:46 PM on September 22, 2002

Andrius Kulikauskas speaks to this same idea in an essay posted to David Weinberger's site.

The only thing you really need to know is "Always look at everything from their point of view". Then you can be hyperflexible, respond in the ways that any good person would, and ready for the good to come from any direction. And you will get hurt just a very little bit.
posted by gen at 6:59 PM on September 22, 2002

OK, obviously I'm ignorant. I'd been under the impression that Judaism frowned on organ transplantation. No? Somebody set me straight on this.
posted by ChrisTN at 7:05 PM on September 22, 2002

It depends on what branch they are from, ie Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. The more religious feel you should be buried with what you came in with because you will need it in the after life.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 7:14 PM on September 22, 2002

He's not a hero. He's what every single human being on this earth ought to be.

Uh, he's dead. That's what we all should be? I think I know what you're getting at, but once your organs are being given out, it's your family who's making the choices, not you. I wouldn't call them heroes either, just humane people.
posted by meep at 7:16 PM on September 22, 2002

ChrisTN: a competent answer
posted by ParisParamus at 7:28 PM on September 22, 2002

Runs: not necessarily.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:29 PM on September 22, 2002

Agreed Paris. No one can "box" what a person of a certain religion does. It was a generalization.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 7:36 PM on September 22, 2002

Actually, Runs, what you though is what I thought. Which is not unreasonable. So thanks for the opportunity for educating everyone.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:39 PM on September 22, 2002

Paris: thanks, that helps.
posted by ChrisTN at 7:41 PM on September 22, 2002

meep, oissubke was talking about his missionary friend, not Yoni Jesner.
posted by maudlin at 7:55 PM on September 22, 2002

Yasmin’s grandfather, Farouk, claimed the Israeli authorities had almost refused his family permission to travel to the hospital to see his granddaughter.

Granted, "almost refused" is no tragedy, but it's interesting to see the administration showing up in its typical role in this story.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:14 PM on September 22, 2002

I think that the general Jewish rule against organ transplant (and autopsies) doesn't have so much to do with the afterlife as with respect for the body and the God who created it. Since the body once housed the soul, you must treat it with respect and not descrate it by removing its organs, cutting it up, etc. However, a conflict arises in forbidding organ transplant because one of the paramount directives of Judaism is the obligation to preserve human life -- so, for example, even very observant Jews are permitted to break the general prohibition against driving on Shabbat if they need to take someone to the emergency room. The prevalent movement in the Conservative community now seems to allow organ transplant for a specific, immediate, identified recipient, since by doing so you perform the mitzvah of preserving another life. It is generally not OK to donate organs to a general organ bank or for medical school students to practice on, because you are not saving a specific life that way and so the desecration of the body is not allowable.

Anyway, more information on this topic is available here -- didn't mean to provide a lecture.
posted by picopebbles at 9:07 PM on September 22, 2002

There are quiet acts of decency, of dignity, of compassion, of courtesy, of valor, of humanity that play out on both sides, and between them, every day in a thousand small ways. Their echoes seldom carry over the din of suicide bombers and shelling and bulldozers and angry rhetoric, but it's healing to be reminded of them all the same.

I read an article. It spoke of other things but concluded with this sentiment:

Surely, I thought, the time must come when the Jews and Arabs ... unite to protect each other.

Here's hoping.
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:18 PM on September 22, 2002

meep, oissubke was talking about his missionary friend, not Yoni Jesner.

Actually, I was talking about Yoni, but I did phrase the paragraph poorly so the misunderstanding is my fault.
posted by oissubke at 10:00 PM on September 22, 2002

Last year, my sister was extremely ill, on what we thought was her deathbed. (She lived, and so did her baby). I spent days in the corridor outside the intensive care unit of Sha'are Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem. The few braincells that weren't preoccupied with worrying about my sister noted slowly that some families were Arab. We all swapped food, tea, and gestured news about how our patients were doing. (Sadly, most patients who went in went out to the morgue a few days later). Even then (April last year) tension was rising. I remember thinking how sad it was that the spontaneous co-operation in ICU could not last outside the hospital gates.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:42 PM on September 22, 2002

All the branches of Judaism encourage transplantation, and some even imply that it's required. (Orthodox Jews are more particular about the methodology, though). For information on the positions of many faiths on the subject of transplantation, see http://www.life-source.org/religion.html
posted by gspira at 10:55 PM on September 22, 2002

The few braincells that weren't preoccupied with worrying about my sister noted slowly that some families were Arab

Exactly. And that can, and does happen in Israel, but never in palestine. Israel is a secular democracy. If only palestinians could see the light.
posted by hama7 at 6:39 AM on September 23, 2002

fatally wounded

Conveniently worded. How about "murdered by a terrorist bombing"?

Here's another:

[Yasmin Abu Ramila, 7, a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, had been on a transplant waiting list and undergoing dialysis treatment for almost two years, an Israeli Health Ministry official said.

A suitable donor finally became available when Jonathan Jesner, 19, a seminary student from Scotland, died on Friday, a day after he was critically wounded when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a bus in Tel Aviv. Five Israelis and the bomber were also killed.

"The family is very proud that (Jonathan) was able to give life to others," said Ari Jesner, the victim's brother. The most important principle "is that life was given to another human being. I think its unimportant what religion, what nationality."]
posted by hama7 at 6:59 AM on September 23, 2002

"How about "murdered by a terrorist bombing"?"

Because it's my post, and I get to arrange the words however I want, and "fatally wounded in Thursday's bus bombing" is accurate.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:32 AM on September 23, 2002

i was watching this show on the dead sea last night and they were saying how every generation there's a major earthquake and i was just thinking it might take something like that to bring people together. like if any place needed a bit of "grace" (ironically, i guess) it'd be there.

also, who was it who said we should just fuck until we're all the same color, george carlin? this'd be like exchanging organs until we're all a part of each other! or something :)
posted by kliuless at 10:18 AM on September 23, 2002

If only palestinians could see the light. [...]
How about "murdered by a terrorist bombing"?

Ah, I was just waiting for this to deteriorate into just another Israelis vs. Palestinians thread. Thanks, hama7! Right on cue.
posted by ChrisTN at 10:53 AM on September 23, 2002

"can, and does happen in Israel, but never in Palestine."

Is that because Sharon has blown all the hospitals up?
posted by lerrup at 12:27 PM on September 23, 2002

My would-be constructive addition to this topic is to encourage you all to sign up to be a potential organ donor (unfortunately, to do this you have to be dead), a potential bone marrow donor (you can be alive for this!), or a potential whole blood or platelets donor (again, you get to live!).

You can often register as a marrow donor at the place where you regularly give blood. From a small sample of your blood, certain markers will be identified and entered into a database, where they may be able to match a potential donor with a recipient.

There is an especial need for donors of non-European ancestry.
posted by jengod at 2:57 PM on September 23, 2002

There are two sides to this conflict-- those who care about human life outside their clan, and those that don't.
posted by chaz at 4:22 PM on September 23, 2002

No, Lerrup, it's because Jews in the territories, barring guys like Shapiro who have PR value, are either soldiers or dead.

One wonders (ok, I admit it, I wonder) if this girl is going to have a social stigma for having a Jewish set of Kidneys? Apostrophized as unclean?

More to the point, no, Sharon didn't blow up the hospitals in the territories. Just plain didn't happen. Unless there's some cache of information about deliberate attacks on hospitals (outside of the recent attempt by, who was it, hamas? to put something like cyanide in the drinking water of a hospital in Israel...) by either side.

I refer you back, of course, to the Larry Miller piece "It Gets Harder When They Cheer." This sort of thing happens in Israel all the time. I defy someone to show me a Palestinian doctor who would do the same for an Israeli, given the chance. Maybe they're out there. It would certainly make life less bleak than it's been looking lately.

For robust debate, both sides must be vigorously represented, and the facts must be presented. I've seen the vigorous representation, just no facts.
posted by swerdloff at 4:41 PM on September 23, 2002

Apostrophized as unclean?

Apostrophized? Is that a real word?
posted by oissubke at 4:46 PM on September 23, 2002

Actually Swerdloff, there are many Jews in the territories doing human rights and relief work. Many of them have written about the experiences, you can find them on most anti-occupation sites, might try jewsagainsttheoccupation.org to start, I think they have some accounts there. I myself was there for a few months, during 'peaceful' times and while I didn't advertise my ethnicity, I didn't hide it either and never found any hatred towards me, as people met me in the context of the UN (which does tours in the territories). The general mantra was that anyone who opposes the occupation, Jew or otherwise, was welcome there. Of course there are racist hotheads, but in general I know quite a few Jews who have visited and been made to feel quite welcome. Here is a passage from something I found while googling from someone called "Starhawk" who is apparently a left-wing activist and Jewish:
"Are you Christian?" Hanin finally asks us at the end of the night. Melissa, Jessica and I look at each other. All of us are Jewish, and we're not sure what the reaction will be if we admit it. Jessica speaks for us.
"Jewish," she says. The women don't understand the word. We try several variations, but finally are forced to the blunt and dreaded "Yahoud."
"Yahoud!" Hanin says. She gives a little surprised laugh, looks at the other women. "Beautiful!"
And that is all. Her welcome to us is undiminished. She shows me the shower, dresses me in her own flowered nightgown and robe, and puts me to bed in the empty side of the double bed
posted by chaz at 5:08 PM on September 23, 2002

Apostriphized is when someone has been treated as an apostrophe:

A figure of speech by which the orator or writer suddenly breaks off from the previous method of his discourse, and addresses, in the second person, some person or thing, absent or present; as, Milton's apostrophe to Light at the beginning of the third book of ``Paradise Lost.''

Essentially, treated as if one person and then treated as another, suddenly.

Chaz, that's the happiest thing I've read today, and it gives me hope.
posted by swerdloff at 5:34 PM on September 23, 2002

I'm with jengod on this.

I have two friends who are alive today only because two unknown people were thoughtful and generous enough to think beyond their own lives and to carry donor cards, or because their survivors were thoughtful and generous enough.

Another friend of mine....

Ah, damn. Jim was next up on the list for a compatible organ and he'd even gotten the beeper that would notify him the minute the hospital found one available for him....

But not enough people think about someone else's future. I miss him.

Whenever we go for dim sum, we try a plate of something we've never tried before in his memory but that's not the same as sharing a new plate of dim sum with him. I miss him.

Ricky and I both carry signed and witnessed organ donor cards in our wallets, and all our relations and friends know (should they be asked) that they're to say, "Use anything you can for anybody who needs it."

Whatever your age might be, please consider carrying a donor card of your own---for the sake of some else's friends.
posted by realjanetkagan at 12:32 AM on September 26, 2002

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