Location: Long Beach, California, United States

We moved to Israel thinking, rather naively that it was our true home, but after many months of trying to assimilate, learn the language and seeking employment we were forced to face the TRUTH! Israel is a bit backward, they still tend to mix religion with government and they are gravely biased by the belief of the Ultra religious who make it difficult for secular, everyday Jews to get along.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Passover...Ahh the lost dream!

The first corner of this year turns and we come to Passover, last year during this same week before the holiday I was astonished at what transpired in Israel in preparation for the Pesach. Today as I sit in a neatly furnished modern apartment in Long Beach I recall the hustle and bustle of 'Kosher Preparation' of 2005 in Tzfat! It was unbelievable to me that people could go to such extremes. Using a blowtorch for example to clean the pipes in bathroom and kitchen "just to make sure the house is pure". I guess what bothers me most looking back on all the discoveries that my husband and I made living in Tzfat is this...if Kosher is equal to clean...then why was everything so dirty, and how could cleaning the impossibly unkept just for Passover help!
Terribly complicated rules apply to Passover in Israel, and in fact they were so complicated that we were not even invited to a seder with any of the religious because we might have contaminated their seder, we were however invited to a non religious and secular seder which proved to be fun and hours of waiting to eat, no reading of the Haggadah until the wee hours of the morning, just a nice time for recalling why we celebrate the holiday at all and sharing how we felt about the condition of Israel.
Life should be sweet, and simple and not contracted by the requirements of the Rabbi's, and the laws which are man made. Passover was intended only to remind us that once we were slaves and we should neither allow that condition to overtake us again, nor should we allow it to overtake any other human being! I look back at my life and the places where genocide, imprisonment and slavery have happened in this world and it makes me want to shout from the roof tops! NEVER AGAIN!! Not to the Jews, my people, nor to the people in Dafur nor to any other living being on the face of this earth! If I could look at the holiday of Passover and see that because we remember the bitterness of enslavement we have changed things in this world I would feel pride. However, this is not the case, we stop briefly in the spring of every year and we recite the prayers, follow the traditions, eat reclining and do a million other acts of rememberance but all of that has not changed the fact that in this world there are millions, no perhaps billions of souls who are NOT FREE! I listen to the news each morning and this morning again there was a reminder of the fact that we haven't changed anything...human kind even though sentient hasn't learned how to efficiently change the human condition.
If the efforts at cleaning that take place in Israel during this period of the year was extended to an every day affair it would be a sparkling, shinning star of a place, with white streets, no garbage anywhere, clean houses and people who were clean as new born babes! Alas, alack! The poverty, the stench, the garbage in the streets and the depression of the land continues...and so does the lack of empathy for their fellow human beings.
For fifty years the Palestinians have had no place to call their own, no piece of land, no country, and for the most part no dignity! ENOUGH! It is time for a reconciliation of humanity. How dare we sit down to 'celebrate' our freedom from slavery when we have been party to the virtual enslavement of other human beings. I realize that there are those who truly believe that the Palestinians, and in fact probably all Arabs are inherently evil and bent on the destruction of the state of Israel, but I would ask of you this question, how would you react to first losing your land and then being encamped in incredably harsh circumstances, deprived even of the right to basic human needs? Don't you think that after a time you would begin to hate those who imposed such conditions on your people? Don't you know that those who survived the camps carried hatred for their persacutors? How can we ever hope to come to Peace in this world if we are not able to self reflect and see that the actions of one section of humanity towards another causes hatred. If this passover holds any meaning for me as a Jew it is because I have seen with my own eyes, and witnessed with my husband the effects of hatred. When we sit at our seder with our family, we will talk about the conditions of the Palestinians and the faces of hatred that we saw on the Jews of Israel toward those human beings, we will reflect on how the conditions in this world have not changed, and we will speak about the awful fact that little Israeli religious children not yet in school are taught to hate anyone that isn't exactly like them, we will share with any who will listen what it was like to be in a country where we should have felt at home and to have no seder because we were not 'kosher enough'.
As we observe this feast of our coming out of slavery we must remember that many places in the world there are still people who are slaves, the little children in China who work for pennys a day in horrific conditions to produce praoducts that we Americans clamour for; the people of many of the countries in Africa and South America who are mistreated and abused by corporations who use them for mass production of products for the greedy first world countries, we will remember too the faces of the Palestinians and the Arabs of the rest of the mideast where the common man or woman is no different than us...we are all human, and it is that humanity that must speak to our hearts on this occaision, we were given a consciousness to know right from wrong, good from evil and as has been said many times before by many famous men and woman...
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing!"
So I challenge you as you come to this season of Passover, and the good Christians among us come to Easter, please remember that all humanity is sacred, all of us! It doesn't matter what we believe, or how we look, or the color of our skin...we are all HUMAN, and the death of any one of us touches the others no matter whether we realize it or not. The circles of life in the world are varied, the fact that we have the means and the intelligence to change should cause us to take action against hatred, if we only care for ourselves we are but dust, nothing more than that. It is when humankind reachs out to each other that things change, not when we build walls or erect fences, not when we declare another less than ourselves.
When you walk down the streets of your city on the holidays of this month trying looking at everyone you meet straight in the eye, the banker, the teen with the tacks and tattoos, the mailperson, the officer in uniform, and the bum on the corner ...try to see their humanity, not what they appear to be or who you surmise that they are, look beyond all of that to the human being inside, and if you dare look even deeper perhaps you will meet anothers SOUL!

Addendum: 4/20/2006

Since this blog caused my email to flood I should like to add a simple note here.
After days of emails, most of which applauded my strength and ability to say what is difficult about my beloved country and 5 emails that were very angry or hateful towards me, and what I have written, I should like to say TRUTH is simply that, the TRUTH and when someone points out a fault all of us react the same way, defensively. However to all of you who wrote to say positive things, I thank you. To those of you who wrote to me of your own pain over Israel ,I would say I hear you and I understand, especially to the women who have written who are in abusive relationships in Israel I would like to send courage, don't let the men in your lives hurt you any further, and when the Rabbi tells you to 'stay put and shut up', do your very best to get you and your children out of harms way!
To those who had some very hateful and angry reactions to what I write, I would remind you that each man/woman lives their own perception of life...and to the one person who threatened me openly I would say...guess what I sent a copy of your email to the proper authorities in Israel, even though I doubt anything will come of it.
I have responded to each of the emails if I felt that it was safe for me to do so, and in any case where I felt a woman or her children might be at risk if I responded, I did not respond.
Thanks to all of you even those who protest, as I take that into consideration when writing and will use examples of these in my upcoming book.