Eighteen summers ago, I had just finished my first year of rabbinical studies in Israel. In July, I drove to meet the congregation that I would serve for two years as their student rabbi, in South Lake Tahoe, California.
My first visit came two weeks after the abduction of Jaycee Lee Dugard. The picture above could be found on posters in every store, restaurant, hotel and casino in town, and pink ribbons were being worn everywhere. Several of the children in the congregation had known her, and one had played on a team with her. All of the parents were distraught and anxious about letting their own children out of their sight in this small and lovely town in which they had chosen to raise their families.
Yesterday, I saw that picture again as the astounding news broke that Jaycee Dugard had been found after having been kept captive all those years, not more than a three hour drive from South Lake Tahoe. As the disturbing details of her captivity emerge, I am thinking of her. I think of all her contemporaries, the children I knew in South Lake Tahoe who grew up in the security of their homes, went to school and played sports, went to college or to work or to military service, had social lives and love lives and professional lives, the kind of life that Jaycee would probably have had if she had not been abducted. I think of how many changes there have been in my own adult life from then until now. I pray that Jaycee and her children may find some semblance of a secure and happy life from this point on.