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Jerusalem In My Heart

7 Dec

Yesterday I told my daughter not to go to Jerusalem. She and her husband live in Holon, about an hour from Jerusalem. I know that violence will explode as Hamas lashes out over the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It makes me ill.

Nothing has really changed.  But those who work toward hatred use it as a cry to kill and destroy.  And the way the media and the politicians across the world reacts adds to the mob mentality of hatred.  If you show people rabble rousing then they will turn into hate filled mobs.  Why not use some common sense.  And just relax.  The US Congress recognized Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel decades ago. This is not news.

I love Jerusalem. It is in my heart. I spent my sophomore year of college in a Jerusalem attending Hebrew University, living in both Givat Ram and then Har Hasofim campuses. I traveled the roads and went throughout the area surrounding Jerusalem with ease. In 1974 and 1975 we could easily go anywhere in and about Jerusalem. There was no intifada. There were no walls and barricades. We all went where we wanted.

But still my family worried.  It was less than a year after the Yom Kippur War.  My Grandma Esther, who was born in the USA, would send me letters with newspaper clippings and write, “You could kill me in easier ways.”  My Grandma Thelma, who was born in Poland, would send me letters telling me to meet up with her family who had come to Israel after the Shoah.

My love of Jerusalem started before I even saw it,  when I was 11 years old.  The movie, “To Cast A Giant Shadow,” came out. I went to see it with my cousins and grandmas during the summer. I sat next to Grandma Rose, my cousins’ grandma. But we shared her. She had been a citizen of Jerusalem during the siege in 1948 when the Arab nations declared war on Israel after the UN declared the new country of Israel.  Jews in the Jewish Quarter of the old city were cut off without food or water as the siege started. They survived due to old hidden waters in the City.

Grandma Rose, Grandpa Asher and Uncle  Jack survived. But Grandma Rose told me she never forgot looking back to her city, to Jerusalem and wondering if she would ever see it again, when she was forced to leave. When all the Jews, families who had lived there for centuries, were taken out of the city by the Jordanian soldiers. She did not go back, but she never forgot. She died in the USA.

When I lived in Jerusalem, I was there when Uncle Jack returned for the first time, 26 years after he had been forced out as young man. My uncle and aunt came to Israel for their 25 wedding anniversary. And I got the benefit of being with them as my Uncle relived his childhood and told me about the siege and how they survived. He also never forget the last look back as he left his home.

I have been to Jerusalem many times. The heart of Israel. Where the Israeli government has its parliament, the Knesset; where the Israeli Supreme Court makes decisions that benefit those of all religions; where the holy sites of Jews, Christians and Moslems exist in close proximity.

It was in Jerusalem,  the city of peace, that I was taught to use an Uzi and an M-16 automatic rifle to survive.  It was soon after the Yom Kippur War and it was not always safe.  It was in Jerusalem that I became used to the bus drivers who would walk through the bus and ask about every package to find out who it belonged to , to make sure there were no bombs.  It was in Jerusalem that I felt the ground shake as the military detonated bombs it had found nearby in an empty field.  The terrorist groups have been attacking Jerusalem and Israel for decades.  Nothing seems to stop it.  There is always another reason they claim to try to kill or cause chaos. So this decision really changes nothing. The violence ebbs and flows like a tide.

I have been to the Temple Mount and visited the mosques; I have seen the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem; The tomb of Rachel on the road to Bethlehem; the tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Some of these places are difficult for Jews to access now.

Every time I go to Jerusalem now, I see signs of hatred rising. I love Jerusalem, like many others say they love it as well. But some times I wonder about their signs of love; they are are hard to decipher, to understand. Throwing stones, setting fires, stabbing, terrorists attacks. These are not signs of a people loving a city.  These are signs of destruction.

Recently I was at the Harry Truman Presidential Library.  I read about his recognizing the State of Israel and how so many American and international politicians were against this decision. But he did what he thought was right.  The world survived.

Instead of focusing on the one issue of Jerusalem, why is the world not focusing on the proxy war between the Shia and Sunni that is taking place in Syria?  Why not focus on the war occurring in Yemen?  Why not see the horrors that are happening in Turkey?  Why not Iran and Saudi Arabia?  Hundreds of thousands people have been killed.  Millions have been displaced.  Israel has nothing to do with any of it… so the Arab world stays silent.

Jerusalem is not the reason for all these conflicts.  There are much bigger conflicts within the Moslem Arab nations that is causing unrest in the Middle East.  I hope one day there will be a end of hostilities.  That both sides will decide to just live in peace.  That they will move forward and not ruminate on the past.  To be honest neither side can win, unless they let the past go free.

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While In Israel, I Have Been Crying For Aleppo

17 Dec

It is relatively peaceful where I have been the past two weeks. In Jerusalem I walked the old city at night.  Yes we stayed in the Jewish Quarter. But we walked and talked and saw children walking or riding their bicycles without fear. 

While in Jerusalem, we took a tour to Herodium, the final resting place – the tomb of Herod the Great, master builder and king who died in 4 BCE. It is in the Gush, the part of the West Bank close to Jerusalem. We lunched at a winery and traveled by car along the trail of the patriarchs passing gated communities enclosed by barbed wire. But it was quiet and seemingly peaceful.  We passed Palestinian communities and saw farmers working their lands. 

We saw the news and read about the soon to be evacuated community of Amona.  And how the settlers don’t want to leave, but the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled they must leave by December 25 this year. A double holiday. Hanukkah and Christmas. 

We stayed in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv for a week with our daughter and her husband. We visited with her in laws in Modi’in. From her home a tour guide took us around Tel Aviv and the old city of Jaffa. We visited the Peres Center for Peace, to hear about programs to bring people together. 

 In both Jerusalem and Jaffa, I was amazed to see the new and innovated ways that both Moslem and orthodox Jewish women were now using scarves to cover their hair. Slightly different ways, but in many ways the same.  They pass each other peacefully in the streets and shopping centers. In Mamilla, a outdoor shopping center near Jaffa Gate, they mingled together in a colorful picture of head coverings from my view in a second story restaurant. 

We traveled north to Ceaseria, the port city built by Herod. So much of it still buried beneath the sand, but amazing with its Herodian, Byzantine and crusader ruins. It is a must see! Then another winery in Zichron Yaacov, a Jewish city that sits across on a hill side from an Arab village, near Haifa where Jews and Moslems both live and attend the Technion University. 

And all the while Aleppo burns. And children, women and men perish in the fires of another genocide. And the UN is useless. Still condemning Israel, but staying silent on the true terror of the region: Syria.  I cry for the children of Aleppo. I cry for all children who sees destruction and feel the fear of war. 

The children of Gaza suffer. But each day 39-40 trucks of cement enter the Gaza from Israel to help rebuild. Where is the cement going?  I can’t answer that.  But Gaza could be rebuilt if its leaders turned away from violence and settled for peace. While in Aleppo, there is no choice. The government and the Russian military has decided for them. 

In Israel, the Peres Center has a program, Saving Children, to bring Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank into Israel for urgent and complicated medical issues. Each year about 1000 children are cared for in Israel. Another program brings doctors from the West Bank into Israel for their residencies and fellowships to learn and bring back to their homes. In Aleppo the Air Force targeted hospitals and killed the most needy. Destroying the places of healing and hope. 

I had hoped the world had changed in 80 years. But it seems not.  So while in Israel, I have been saddened and cried for the destruction of Aleppo and Syria. For years I have wondered how the world leaders could do nothing. I will head home to the US today, but those who survive Aleppo will not have that opportunity.  Power breeds contempt. An entire country destroyed. While in Israel I have been crying for Aleppo and all of Syria. 

The Rosh Hashannah Card Has A Story

1 Oct

szenk-1936-shana-tova

In 1936 my Grandma Thelma’s siblings sent her a Rosh Hashannah card from Poland. On the front is a photo of her siblings. Seated are her brother Isaac and his wife, Bronia. Standing are her youngest siblings David and Esther. Soon after this photo was taken the world really began to change.

This photo looks so peaceful and calm. But so much was going on behind the scenes. Plans were already being made. Getting out of Poland was their main goal.

My Grandmother worked diligently to get her family out of Europe. She and my grandfather owned a bakery and had two young children. Grandma had taken her children to Europe in 1931 and since her return had been searching for ways to rescue her family and my grandfather’s family. It was very difficult.

Eventually, she got documentation to bring my great grandfather Abraham (her mother had died young) and her younger sister, Esther, to the United States. Esther was older than 21, but she was very tiny. So they made her younger. And thus she was able to come with her father.

The age difference was a bone of contention for years. My Tante always stating her ‘fake’ age, my grandmother always correcting her. It was made worse by the fact that my Grandmother had traveled by herself to the USA in 1922, when she was only 16. To get the papers she needed, she made herself two years older! The war over their ages went on for years.

It was great until Tante wanted to retire. Truly she was 65, but legally she was 62. I remember this as my Grandmother and Tante would argue about this as well.   Like sisters, with love, they found many things to argue about.

Front Great grandpa USA Visa

In any case two were saved. I have my Great Grandfather’s passport and visa. In the passport it states that he has to leave Poland within a certain time or the visa is invalid. Luckily my grandparents also sent money. Saving family was utmost in my grandparents’ mind.

But my Grandmother was unable to rescue her brothers and bring them to the USA.   They decided that they had to leave Poland: Uncle Isaac and his wife, Bronia, along with David and Bronia’s sister, Rosa. The Rabbi said that David and Rosa must marry before they left Poland. So a quick wedding was held.

They escaped Poland to Russia. Not as great, but they were tailors…or they became tailors. And so, my grandmother would say, they were employed to make army uniforms for the Russian army.

Their lives were not easy. They suffered. But they survived. Many were not as fortunate.

After the war they wanted to leave Europe. They were in Italy and the Facists were on the rise. They were afraid. They wrote to their sisters in the United States, and to Bronia and Rosa’s sisters in Australia. They decided whoever sent documents first , they would go to that country. They just wanted out of Europe as quickly as possible.

Once again they were among the fortunate ones with sisters on two continents working to save their siblings. The sisters in Australia got documents first. My great aunts and uncles moved to Australia. There my cousin was born. There my Uncle David passed away when in was in his 30s. He is buried in Melbourne.

When my cousin was a child, they decided to move to Israel. My Great Uncle and his wife; his sister in-law, and niece. My cousin and her family still live in Israel. My grandparents, great aunts and uncles have all passed away. But when I look at this Rosh Hashannah card, I see hope. I wish everyone a blessed, happy, healthy and sweet new year.

 

 

 

To read more about the family:

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/speaking-yiddish-always-brings-me-holocaust-memories/

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/who-are-you-these-photos-call-out-to-me/

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/grandma-thelma-knows-what-she-knows/

A Kansas Wedding With a Catskills Honeymoon

10 Sep


My daughter and her beloved were married last week in a traditional Jewish wedding held outside in a park in Leawood, Kansas.  Gezer Park was established to represent Leawood’s relationship as the sister city to the Gezer region in Israel. 

It was the perfect spot for them to marry as they live in Israel near the Gezer Region. They chose to marry in a quiet area of the park called the Havdalah Garden. 

The small, private ceremony for family and their friends reflected their commitment to focus on their marriage.  And so the park’s limit on guests reflected their desire to keep the ceremony intimate. Later that day there was a larger reception for friends who have had an impact on her life. 

They married under a chuppah that I crocheted for them. Intertwining threads created purple flowers within each white square. Four of the groom’s brothers steadied the poles as the bride and groom stood beneath.  

It was a beautiful day tinged with a bit of sadness. A close friend had lost her battle with cancer and the funeral was the Friday before the wedding.  And then there was the sad fact that they had no grandparents at the wedding. I had all four of my grandparents at my wedding. But I decided the beautiful weather was the gift from all who could not attend. 

From a wedding in Kansas, the couple went on a honeymoon to the Catskills at our home in Kaunenga Lake. They are not the first in our family to honeymoon in the Catskills.  When my parents married in 1951, they spent a weekend at Grossingers before my dad left for an extended tour of duty in the Korean War. 

My grandparents went to have dinner with them each night. My Dad used to say he was the only person he knew who shared his honeymoon with his in laws. They always said that they just wanted to pay for dinner. 

My daughter’s honeymoon is similar, but different. There is no Grossingers. It closed years ago. But we still own our family home. My siblings, who own the home with me, were more than happy to let the couple honeymoon there. 

And my sister is recreating the role of my grandparents. My daughter has never been there without family, and was a bit worried about being there ‘alone.’ She welcomed and actually insisted my sister come as their driver and company. We have been calling her the chaperon. Now to give my sister credit, she offered them a car and keys so they could go by themselves. But they wanted her to come along. We are all getting a good giggle defining her role. 

It is a bit more emotional for me as this weekend is also my father’s birthday weekend. I know that he and my Mom, as well as my grandparents, would be filled with joy knowing that another young couple is enjoying the peace and beauty of our Catskills home. They would kvell knowing that the bridal couple chose to be there for their first trip together as a married couple. 

I know they have walked to the lake and seen the places where my daughter spent many happy moments. They have seen where my grandparents had their bungalow colony. They stopped at the Woodstock site and had ice cream at Candy Cone. They have made new joyful memories. 

It was a beautiful wedding, a lovely reception, a glorious weekend of joy which has led them to a peaceful few days in the Catskills. I hope these moments are reflected in their marriage. Which I hope is filled with love, joy, laughter, glorious moments, peace, contentment and beautiful memories. 

Drinking An Ooglie Mooglie/Gogli Mogli Always Made A Sore Throat Feel Better

11 May

Recently while at lunch with my Kansas Yiddish buddy, we were talking about how some children did not like eggs and the ways their mothers snuck eggs into their diet.

I told how my husband hated eggs so much, his mother would make him chocolate chip pancakes so that he would have eggs without knowing. Not such a harsh way to eat eggs! In fact, I laughed about it. But it was a tradition my husband continued with our children.  Scrambled eggs were not the right Sunday morning breakfast in his mind,  you gave your children pancakes and biscuits to have them eat eggs.

My friend’s mother had a sneakier way to get her to eat eggs. My friend would drink a malted after school each day. Her mother would mix a raw egg into my friend’s malted. She was surprised that her mother would do such a thing. When she found out what her mother was doing from her young uncle, she never trusted those special drinks again.

“It was a good thing I never got salmonella,” my friend said.

But then they did not think about salmonella over 50 years ago….okay I am giving away our ages.  In fact, serving raw eggs was considered a delicacy. Personally, I was not surprised about putting raw eggs in a drink. I asked her, “Well didn’t you ever have an ooglie mooglie?”

“What are you talking about?” She said as she looked at me as if I was crazy.

I could not believe she never had one of this special ‘treats’ when she had a sore throat or cold. Raw egg mixed with sugar and beaten till it was smooth and frothy, an Oogle Moogle or Ooglie Moogli was a treat that I had on occasion from my grandmother.  But never from my own mother.

However, when I lived in Israel during my sophomore year of college, I had many occasions to have an Oogle Moogle from my great aunt and uncle.   Holocaust survivors, they often made this treat for their daughter, who loved them. She would have them all the time if she could.   I remember the first time they made one for me,  I was so sick.  She wanted one as well!   But they only made one for me!  It was delicious.

I told all this to my friend, and to prove I was not crazy, I googled (LOL) oogle moogle. And there on Wikipedia was an entire page devoted to this treat, I show the first paragraph here:

“Kogel mogelGogl-MoglGogel-MogelGogol-Mogol (Russian: Гоголь-моголь), Gogli-Mogli, or Gogle-mogle (Yiddish: גאָגל-מאָגל‎) is an egg-based homemade dessert popular in Central Europe and Caucasus. It is made from egg yolkssugar, and flavorings such as honeyvanillacocoa or rum, similar to eggnog. In its classic form it is served slightly chilled or at room temperature. Served warm or hot, it is considered a home remedy for sore throats. As a home remedy it could be of Russian or Yiddish origin. Variations include milk, honey and soda.[1][2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kogel_mogel

There was my proof, except the name was slightly different: Gogli Mogli. Perhaps I had misunderstood what it was called, but probably over time, I just forgot and changed the pronunciation. It did not matter, my friend still had never heard of it.

But since she never liked eggs, I cannot imagine that her mother or any relative would ever offer her a drink made primarily of eggs and sugar. Whereas I can still see my great uncle mixing the drink and stirring it so quickly till it turned to forth. To me the memory of an Ooglie Mooglie or a Gogli Mogli is a wonderful memory, especially when I am suffering with a sore throat. It would make it feel so much better.

The Necklace I Never Wear

2 Apr

In a box in my closet is a small scrimshaw necklace that I never wear. I will never give it away. I will never sell it. I hope one day one of my children will take it.

The necklace I purchased with the money from Zeisel.

The necklace I purchased with the money from Zeisel.

It is not that old. I bought it when I was 20, when I spent my sophomore year of college in Israel, 1974 to 1975.

Many holocaust survivors were still alive. Some of them related to me through my maternal grandparents who were both from Europe. My grandparents came to the USA in the 1920s. But most of their family remained behind. Many perished, others survived and moved to Israel.

My grandmother went to Europe in 1931 with my Mom and uncle. I have written about this before. She stayed on the farm owned by her in-laws. While she was there her mother-in-law, my great grandmother Chava, gave her some family items. Two pieces of jewelry, a pearl necklace and an opal ring; and several embroidered and handmade pieces that Chava had made.   I own all but the pearl necklace. They were all given to me as the one named for Chava.

The pearl necklace disappeared in 1931. My grandmother went to use the shower at her inlaws. She took off the necklace to bathe and forgot to put it back on. When she realized it was gone, she went back to the bathroom. It was missing.

But she knew who took it. Zeisel. He was the only one who had been in the bathroom. But he denied taking it. And that was the end of the matter for 43 years, until I went to Israel for a year of college.

A month after I arrived in Israel, I received a letter from my grandmother telling me the story of the pearls. I had never heard it before. In the letter she wrote that the ‘goniff,’ Zeisel Feuer, my grandfather’s cousin, was going to give me some money to pay her back for the necklace he stole in 1931. I was to take the money and give my great uncle, her brother, half the money. The other half was to buy myself a necklace because I should have the pearls.

What? Was my grandmother insane?   I did not really want to do this.

I wrote her back saying that I thought 43 years meant the statute of limitations on a theft were over. And that she needed to let it go. And I did not need to have the necklace. But a few weeks later I received another letter instructing me how to find Zeisel in Tel Aviv. He worked at bakery on a specific street and I was to go there and speak to him. She said I had no choice. I had to do this. It was important to both of them to end this. And I would be the one to fix it. What?

Grandma ordered, so I obeyed. The next time I was in Tel Aviv, I went to the bakery. There was a man who looked so much like my grandfather, except smaller and bent. I knew it had to Zeisel. I introduced my self. He held for minute and had me sit at a table. He brought tea and a pastry. I waited while he finished working. Then we walked back to his apartment.

There he gave me Israeli lire, which in US would be worth about $100. And he told this story.

He was married with two children. He had a wonderful life. But he wanted more for his family. So when my grandmother left the pearls in the bathroom, he thought, “She lives in America. She is rich and has money. She does not need this necklace.” And he took it. And he lied.

In return the Nazis came. They killed his wife. They killed his children. They tortured him. He could no longer have any children.

And he knew that taking the necklace had brought all this pain to him and his family. And before he died he had to make amends. So he gave me the money. I was to do with the money whatever my grandmother said.  He had made peace.

I was stunned. I was 19. I did not know what to say but to cry.   When I left him, I took the money back to my dorm in Jerusalem at Hebrew University. A few weeks later I took half the money to my Uncle Isaac. The other money I kept in my room.

Each time I went to Tel Aviv after that, I always went to the bakery to see Zeisel. He always gave me tea and a pastry.   There were not many phones in Israel at the time. So I could not call in advance. I would just show up, or send him a letter telling him when I thought I would come. When my parents came to Israel that December of 1974, I took them to meet Zeisel and speak to him. It was a meeting my parents never forget as well.

In January I turned 20. I finally spent the $50 on a necklace for me. A necklace that carried so much pain. I could not wear it even though I knew my grandmother wanted me to have this jewelry from my great grandmother. So I keep it in a box in my closet. I know it is there. I know it is safe. It will not be lost. But I cannot wear it. When I see it, I always think of Zeisel and how much he lost.

It was not the pearl necklace that doomed his family. It was the rise of hatred. But he did steal it.  So for him giving me the money was closure. He had repented; he had done his “tashuvah.”  But for me it was the beginning of truly understanding the past.

I have written about the Zeisel and the pearl necklace before. It is a story that stays in my heart and my soul. But I have never talk about what I bought with the money. In my mind it is just not enough. It does not make up for the suffering surrounding one pearl necklace.  Zeisel was also the person who let my grandfather know that his entire family had perished in the Shoah.  He is forever bound in our family history.

Zeisel, my grandparents and my parents have all passed away. I am the only one who can remember this story. And so I tell it again.

 

 

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/i-believe-mystically-and-magically-great-grandma-chava-watches-over-me/

 

 

 

Shalom Salaam Peace

14 Nov

Where does the corruption of the value of life come from?  What sort of religious leader sends people out to slaughter innocents? Who is the person who would commit such acts of violence against others and self for some sort of glory? And how do sane and good people cope in the presence of such acts of evil?

To come out in the name of a religion to kill without thought or consciousness is so wrong. These acts are acts of hatred and evil. Not the teachings of any religion.

But these acts cause rebounding hatred and fear. They spread a virus of unease causing even good people to lose their own inner common sense as they see these acts of horror.

We have seen it over and over as towers fall and trains explode and burn and innocent people perish in restaurants, concerts, marathons, stores. 9/11 in the USA. 3/11 in Spain. 11/13 in Paris. Stabbings in Israel. Beheadings and mass murders in areas controlled by the disease that is ISIS.

Those who act for these militant Islamic groups are not the true voice of any religion. Just as the Christians who perpetrated the Shoah did not represent all Christians. Those who use religion as a reason to murder corrupt religion.

The terrorist want to win by creating more terror and more fear. But in reality there are many more good people than there are evil people. We are the majority. We must work together. We must overcome fear. And we must reach out to the other good people in the world to create a presence of love and understanding.

Yes we must work together to rid the world of the evil of these groups who commits horror. But we must not become them.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet. May the memory of all the people killed and murdered and injured in attacks of hatred in Paris and Israel and throughout the world be as joyful memories to their families and friends. May their names be blessings. May their families know peace as they find a path to comfort.

But may the haters be destroyed and the seeds of such evil be eliminated from the world.

Blessed is the peacemaker. May we all continue to work for peace. Cursed are those who would bring hatred to the world.

Blessed is the Name.

Shalom. Salaam Peace be unto all.