Knowing there is someone there who cares about what I have to say, think, and reflect upon shows me that humans have not completely “lost it”. While writing these lines, I feel so relaxed and so peaceful, as if nothing can spoil this perfect moment of tranquility. I lay down in my living room, looking through double glass doors at the backyard evergreen beyond my porch wondering when snow will fall and what birds do when it gets so cold…My house is quiet, the cat is sleeping, and I am listening to Daniela Andrade. Nothing can beat that peaceful feeling of finishing the semester, and entering the weekend filled with good food, friends, lighting Hanukah candles and finding the spirit compels me to write here to you all that I have in my mind.
As words don’t come easy to me, I need to be carfule and ruminate before I write.
So, I have decided to start from the beginning, not my beginning not my parents beginning but rather my great ancestors beginning, my Jewish recollection you may say.
We wandered for 2000 years but we no longer do because we finally have a place in the world, a corner, and a spot to call home. We nurture it and we care for it and we develop that haven we call Israel because we know, we sure do know from our historical recollection that this is not to be taken for granted that this can vanish. And we know very well that this place we call homeland, the land of our fathers was there to protect us, as we were all refugees, we were immigrants we were rejected, executed, excluded and deported. Gates were too often closed for us, the world shut itself from us, we were different, we were not legal, we were refugee Jews, we were out there seeking safe haven, looking for home, safe shore safe home. Not even a century has gone by. And where are we today?
It makes me so proud that we succeeded despite years of persecution. Although gassed, shot and burned in pits the Israeli people have became successful. Once refugees, now free, independent, self-determined, innovative and dare I say flourishing.
After all our ancestors were once refugees, fleeing from the desert in Sudan, fleeing on boats in the Black Sea, fleeing Nazis, grateful to be accepted somewhere. No one, NO country, not one single country said come to us, we will embrace you save you from horror.
Israeli recollection goes straight to these ideas when it comes time to rescue those in need. We were brought up with these values, doing good deeds, caring for those less fortunate is not a strange notion for us, it is not only part of our history it is very much part of our core.
When I am asked why I am about to fly to the other side of the world, leaving my loving son at his grandparents house for two weeks, leaving lovely Ithaca, my relaxed home and my sleeping cat, I have to refresh their memory, I have to remind them who I am, a Jewish girl third generation of Jewish refugees. I have to remind theme that we were different; we were shamed, we were not accepted because others feared strangers too much. I have to remind them that we were strangers once.
I will finish it here for now with a few lines from an Israeli song I have been chanting to myself lately …” A man needs to have integrity, a small space in the world [land], unforgettable love and true voice when praying [feeling understood/feeling heard). And a perfect moment to give and take and not… to be afraid of the fear.”