If you’ve had a sprained ankle, you might have gained some knowledge of what it would be like if you couldn’t walk. If you’ve been broke during college and didn’t have parents who could just send you money, you might have some idea of how it feels to be actually poor. If you’ve had a pet die, it might give you just a tiny bit of insight into the grief of someone who’s lost a child. In all of these cases, the situations are not the same – nowhere near the same – and sometimes the difference in scale is so great as to be a different thing entirely. Nonetheless, the more minor mishaps might just spur your empathy a bit, making it a little easier to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone with a bigger problem. Maybe you can’t really ever know what it’s like (and wouldn’t want to) but you are that nanometer closer.

That’s about how I feel about the bombing attacks in Medina yesterday.

Jewish women – women like me – have been physically attacked by Orthodox men for the crime of daring to be themselves and pray at the Western wall, in the “wrong” spot or while wearing the “wrong clothing”; as far as I know, none have been seriously hurt, but there’s that roiling mix of hurt and shame, to be attacked by those who are supposed to be our people, who claim to be upholding our holiest site. And obviously this can’t come anywhere near to the grief and shock of four deaths in Medina on top of a wave of killings in Istanbul, Bangladesh and Baghdad; I’m not making a comparison. All I’m saying is that I got burnt by a candle and it taught me just an infinitesimal bit about the heat of the sun.

My heart goes out to those who have lost someone they loved and also to those who are still in shock that groups who claim to be defending their faith could so defile it. I hope the killers and those who funded, trained and supported them will be brought to justice.