HOLIDAYS: A TIME TO LOVE OR TO HATE

Preparations are underway to usher in a week long holiday in Israel. It is called Succot, or The Feast of the Tabernacles. We eat all of our meals in little booths and the ceilings are usually made of tree branches, allowing the sky to be visible. It is a reminder of the 40 years we roamed in the desert and dwelled in such structures. It is actually quite a fun holiday and a very community oriented one, it is one of my favourites.
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A non Jewish visitor to Jerusalem this week might get the impression that the entire city stands in solidarity with the homeless Palestinians illegally evicted from their homes by settlers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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Tents have appeared (actually booths) in preparation of the Festival
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Family homes were STOLEN, many families have been living in makeshift tents for over three years…. and neither the Municipality of Jerusalem nor the Palestinian Authority gives a damn. As winter approaches, a new meaning is given to the term ‘settlement freeze’ as these homeless literally freeze in their abodes.
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I had some flashbacks this morning to my Succot celebrations in Brooklyn as a child, they were much different than here. Here there is a Jewish community and an Arab community. In the neighbourhood I grew up in, there was a Eastern European Jewish Community (Ashkenazi) and a community made up of Spanish Jews and Jews from Northern Africa (Sephardi). Both communities had their own traditions and practices, but basically both were members of the same religion. One of the major differences between the two communities at the time were language, the Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish; a language with Germanic roots, while the Sephardi Jews spoke a language called Ladino; a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish.
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What I remembered this morning was the following;The Synagogue of the Sephardi community was situated very close to the home of my grandparents. They used to build a large enough booth to accommodate their entire congregation. As a child, I used to help them with the preparations. I remembered my grandmother screaming at me from her window to get away from them, not to play with their kids…. I could never understand why. It seemed that part of her ghetto mentality was to distrust anyone that was in any way different. These people were different than we were, as mentioned; they spoke a different language and, for the most part, had darker skins than the Ashkenazi Jews. The younger generation, like myself did not see these differences as our common language was English and skin colour was never an issue with me or my immediate family. I therefore could never understand my grandmother’s logic, or lack of…. So I secretly maintained my friendships with the kids there.
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Today, I started thinking about prejudice, why it exists, how to overcome it…. It seems to exist because of ignorance and fear, two very real factors. How to overcome it? Learn about each other and the fear factor will be eliminated. Very simple! It worked in my case.Things are different today, in Israel at least. The Jewish community celebrates together. We have a common language, Hebrew. There are still some remnants of the old world prejudice, but for the most part it’s gone. Now to overcome the prejudices between the Jewish and Arab communities here. My way is to open my booth, as well as my home, to ALL members of the community, both Arab and Jew.  It’s the only way to guarantee an end to the hatred… live together! So, instead of fearing the differences of the others, my philosophy is to say
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VIVA LA DIFFERENCE!
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Let us all live together as neighbours and brothers.Shalom-Salaam!

4 Comments

  1. irishdaneI said,

    September 28, 2012 at 00:10

    Israel needs more people like you my friend.

  2. Danuta said,

    September 28, 2012 at 02:06

    … congratulations on a marvelous idea and the same mentality. Maybe if all of Israeli’s and Arab people, were thinking as you, peace and love would come soon than expected. Once again CONGRATULATIONS.

  3. omar said,

    September 28, 2012 at 09:04

    I think there are very few number of Jews who would think about those who have once lived where the Israelis are building settlements ,recreation centers or collective farms now .I am one of those forgotten human beings .Many times my mother told us the details of the refuge story ,how our village was attacked by Israeli artillery and militia in the summer of 1948 , how the women fled hastily with their children while the men flew away because it happened in many other villages ,the Hagana armed gangs would call on the males between 15 and 60 years or so to gather ,and they could be shot on the scene.Everything happened suddenly and more than the expected .Our elders told us that some native Jews in the neighborhood used to warn them that there is a plan to drive them out ,but the simple Arab peasants reacted with laughter ,because no one imagined that that little Jewish minority will have the ability to drive us out .Did any Jew think about our lives how they were destroyed,I will never forget the deep sighs of my father when he told stories happened once on that hill or that valley .Jews might had endured such uprooting two millenniums ago ,but what about the 6.5 million uprooted Palestinian refugees nowadays?It is well known in all wars that the displaced civilians in any war have the right to return back to their homes.However this is not a weeping chapter ,just to remember why the coming war is inevitable.

  4. amerikagulag said,

    September 28, 2012 at 20:57

    Funny because they never wandered in the desert – nor were they evicted from Egypt. All just fables.


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