I’m Going To Spain

July 20th, 2014

Vestida con mantos negros
Piensa que el mundo es chiquito
Y el corazón es inmenso…

Flamenco

Draped in black
She thinks that the world is small
and the heart is immense…

Frederico Garcia Lorca

Another day to flip the script

July 16th, 2014

A friend reminded me the other day that we always have the ability to begin again, and so this morning was my renewed expression of flipping the script. As Tin drew trains in beautiful detail and color on his drawing paper, I kept Stella in her kennel after the third paper towel was stolen and chewed to smithereens [sometimes it IS us and them], and began to organize my work day to encourage fruition instead of frustration. This is my own best mantra – try again – and the best parenting tool I have found, “Would you like to try again?” It helps all of us who are so vulnerable to concrete posturing to be kinder to ourselves. It offers us a chance to get it right the next time.

Da Capo

Take the used-up heart like a pebble
and throw it far out.

Soon there is nothing left.
Soon the last ripple exhausts itself
in the weeds.

Returning home, slice carrots, onions, celery.
Glaze them in oil before adding
the lentils, water, and herbs.

Then the roasted chestnuts, a little pepper, the salt.
Finish with goat cheese and parsley. Eat.

You may do this, I tell you, it is permitted.
Begin again the story of your life.

— Jane Hirshfield

(from The Lives of the Heart by Jane Hirshfield)

Groundhog’s Day – NOT

July 16th, 2014

I have taken to smiling thinly and telling people it’s like Groundhog’s Day around here because this is what my schedule has looked like every day even on weekends:

1) wake at 5:30 take Stella and Heidi out
2) feed dogs
3) make tea – watch it grow cold as Tin wakes and engages in counter maneuvers to thwart my parenting
4) argue with Tin about breakfast
5) argue with Tin about getting dressed for camp
6) take Tin to camp and listen to him dictate orders for what he wants me to bring when I come get him
7) rush back to desk to juggle multiple projects that pay me 1/10th of what I used to make
8) stand at the kitchen counter and wolf down food that I have no interest in eating much less making
9) work all afternoon while taking dogs out and feeding them again
10) go sit in the car line to pick up Tin from camp
11) take Tin to whatever fun thing he is doing and wait for it to be done
12) come home and take the dogs out, feed the dogs, and yell at Stella who has chewed something
13) feed Tin food he wants and then doesn’t eat, argue about getting in PJs, have a nice moment reading a book
14) fall into bed instead of reading the Sunday NYT that are piling up on the coffee table
15) read one paragraph of my book and fall asleep with my mouth agape

But I forgot GRATITUDE:

So yesterday when the dog sitter for the summer seemed to go awry and I was woken up at 11PM by my neighbor ringing my doorbell who told me my A/C unit is falling off the back of my house pulling off the side with it and I needed to turn it off so it would quit vibrating, and a thunderstorm of epic proportions erupted wrecking the sleep I was finally getting after fretting about the a/c unit dangling by one screw, and then if that were not enough when I finally got back to sleep at 3:30 am, the phone rang with a wrong number, I chose instead to be grateful that the rain was keeping it cool enough to get through a night without the A/C.

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See, I left out gratitude in my Groundhog’s Day preaching, I should have been grateful for days that beget days, which all seem to blur into one big to-do list that frustrates in a familiar way yet never seems to change or get done!

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STELLA!

July 16th, 2014

Stella graduated from dog obedience training – an A+ student throughout – and yet, undercover she is a criminal and a thief. She steals whatever she can get her hands on – she destroyed a very expensive beach tote that I’ve carried from place to place in pristine condition – she chewed Tin’s bathroom rug – she has chewed the built in hutch that was newly refinished last summer – she chewed a corner of the house – she’s dug up my plants – she’s ruined my sleep.

But she graduated. Yip Yip Yoorah!

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Confessions of a Workaholic

July 15th, 2014

Everybody has an addiction right – in this house, we call Tin the 5-year-old a trainaholic and Heidi the German Shepherd a cataholic and Stella the mutt is a chewaholic.

My addiction is working. I’m in the thick right now of juggling so many multiple projects, steam is coming out of every orifice from the gears grinding so hard.

However, I can say that I get immense satisfaction in completing work projects.

Raising a child, training a puppy, not so much. No one listens to me in this house, I yell and scream like a banshee and all I get is Tin telling me to calm down and Stella looking at me like I’m nuts.

I can post a cute video like this one below and everyone gets warm fuzzies about kids and puppies and may even think, look at Rachel, how lucky she is to have those adorable creatures – but they ain’t no picnic, let me tell you.

On the other hand, give me a to do list any day that I can go through and complete each task and this beast of burden shines. I’m happy. Really. Maybe it’s true that at the end of life I won’t say I wanted more work projects, but on a daily basis I get deeper satisfaction in a job well done than parenting or owning a pet has ever given me.

You heard?

There goes the neighborhood

July 14th, 2014

I moved to the 3rd ward in June of 2013 without much fanfare. I had left the luxury living on Bayou St. John, an address with a sense of an address, to join the urban riff raff who had been living in the dark, literally, for years after the 2005 Federal Flood.

My front strip of grass was an amalgam of stones, old cans and bottles, and Katrina detritus that stuck to the bottom of your flip flop like super glue – a clay mote existed between my house and the street. If you Google mapped my address you would see two young men coming out of the side door with long dreds, sagging pants and stained wife beaters on. My neighbor on the corner was a pretty African American transvestite whose hair was usually wrapped in a black silk do rag, and on the other corner was a squatter living with his two pit bulls who had a penchant for my front water spigot, which he used to collect his water and sometimes shower.

Within weeks of moving in, my street had three huge dumpsters on it. India House had bought the last house in its row between Canal and Cleveland and was fortifying it into its compound. The double across the street was being completely overhauled, and the other double next door where the woman had rented for 23 years was having its porch tore up and replaced with a fine wooden porch.

I had arrived at frontier living in New Orleans having come from the country land on the bayou all just by moving half a mile away. It was sort of jarring, but never you mind, it felt like home nonetheless.

This morning when I went to let the dogs in the backyard, a Hispanic man was peeing against the back wall of the corner store turned apartments next door. The transvestite has since moved (sigh) and been replaced by a young African American with a nice BMW that broke down a few weeks ago and has been parked out front still tethered to the yellow rope that drug it here. He has two fine dining chairs that sit outside his front door with a sickly looking house plant in a pot on them.

The man relieving himself waved me off as if to say he’d be finished in a moment, but my Shepherd was having none of it – she wanted him gone, NOW. And I must admit, I agreed with her.

The house directly in back with its see through walls has been completely renovated after being sold at auction for under $50k and now houses two young couples on each side. Both white. The church came a couple of weeks ago to unwrap its double two doors down and begin renovation after being cited by the Blight committee. The burned out house that borders my backyard has also been cited and is now boarded up awaiting its next phase.

Morris Jeff Community School has risen in steel and concrete from the empty lot on the corner. And yesterday as I was driving home, driving down Salcedo, I passed a porch where a middle age Hispanic woman sat on a wooden chair with a checkered table cloth tied around her while a younger woman wearing kitchen gloves applied hair dye. On the corner, an older African American gentleman wore a loud Bob Marley tee shirt with ONE LOVE scrawled across Marley’s forever youthful face.

The neighborhood is going to be squeezed by the Bio Med center that is on the back nine of construction and the school that now bookends it. Already there is a neighborhood outcry against blight, against crime, against noise. It’s happening here in real time.

When I first moved to Cleveland Ave, I picked up dog shit every day from the two pits living in the squatter house, and I waved hello to the transvestite as a morning ritual. Now a young white man approached me with a small Chihuahua and said that he lives around the corner and was introducing himself.

The neighborhood is changing – pretty soon we will have many transplants to feed the Bio Med Center – the papers say they need 850 housing units. Soon the Bob Marley tee shirt will be replaced with green scrubs so often seen in medical environments. They will be looking to park their BMWs on secure streets, they’ll want the trash picked up, and they’ll perhaps do away with the loose dogs and the army of feral cats that are everywhere.

Today I passed the woman who walks through the neighborhood with a plastic suit that looks like lawn trash bags. She always sports a long white scarf that hangs almost to the ground from her neck. It is the “sweat”suit of my youth, where those intent on losing a few pounds would do it by sweating them off. It’s certainly an anachronism but more importantly it’s absurd in this heat to think you need to wear that to sweat.

I want only one thing from those new people moving in – for them to make short work of the ride or die flies that populate my backyard – otherwise, I’ll take my oddball hood characters any day over the blank stare of a medical researcher who never learned social graces from the medical tomes his head has been stuck in for all of his young life.

My own personal ReJEWveNATION

July 13th, 2014

I marvel at the fact that long ago I left my religion after sitting in the small shule before daybreak during the first year of my father’s death and nine men showed up so we could not say Kaddish aloud because I did not form the 10th “man” for the minyan. I left that Judaism like yesterday’s news and went out into the world on the arm of many an atheist lover – glad to be done with it, but still cowering in the dark from its influence.

At night, I said my prayers without anyone hearing them – Dear Lord forgive me if I have this day/done any wrong in work or play/always help me to do what’s right/watch over me all through the night. Then I’d ask for health and happiness for me and all my unbelieving partners and animals. I was and remain a believer. It’s just that what I believe has changed so many times over that coming back to Judaism wasn’t in the cards for me, at least, until now.

Joseph Campbell, a nonbeliever until he was dying and went back to his Catholicism said: God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It’s as simple as that. And so it is, but saying you’re a Jew means that you are saying you buy lock stock and barrel this God of the Old Testament who is over testosteroned in anyone’s estimation. And remember, I was done with Judaism.

Then I adopted my son and because of the fact that spirituality is to African American what water is to dolphins, I was thinking about his spiritual path and education from the get go. I thought through osmosis he would glean the spiritual education that I’ve had and come to know his own soul’s mind. I thought being adopted by an older white woman in a society that would judge him based on the color of his skin was enough difference for him to endure. I definitely did not want to raise him Jewish.

And then some things happened.

I rejoined my own spiritual journey and arrived at something akin to epiphany after epiphany that helped me see God in me and all around me, in the purest expression of love. When I’m losing my mind these days walking around my house or grimacing at myself in the mirror, I say aloud, “I love you, Rachel” and there my mind and heart and soul finds peace. By happenstance, I picked up a copy of The Jew in the Lotus, Rodger Kamenetz’s book that the New York Times said is a book for “anyone who feels the narrowness of a wholly secular life or who wonders about the fate of esoteric spiritual traditions in a world that seems bent on destroying or vulgarizing them.”

I found in Kamenetz’s book some hidden truths about Judaism that I needed to hear to think about my religion in any kind of seriousness again. I learned it did indeed embrace mystery and dance and revelry and passion but that this had been held in abeyance by the Torah rationalists. Around the same time, I traveled with Tin to a bar mitzvah of my friend’s son in San Francisco and found a welcoming environment in a reform synagogue that was bent on bringing young families together to worship. Returning home, I coincidentally picked up My Promised Land, Ari Shavit’s popular overview of the reason for Israel, and as one thing leads to another that year I learned Tin would have a Christmas tree at his other’s parent’s house. [read: I grew up without Christmas trees and thought my son would too.]

Along your spiritual path, things poke you and prod you and stick with you to bring you to a certain point and it was at this point that I began to look for a synagogue for Tin and I to join here in New Orleans. We went first to the oldest one in the city, Anshe Sfard, in a beautiful old building off of St. Charles Avenue, in an area that once housed many Jewish families. I had met the rabbi dancing in the streets for the Hanukkah second line and adored him from the first moment. But everything about the synagogue reeked of history and moth balls. And so my friend who had introduced me to this rabbi, introduced me to the next rabbi while he was playing his clarinet at the Spotted Cat and the rabbi and his wife had come to listen and dance. This is how I came to make the trek to Metairie and check out that synagogue where young families and better yet, young kiddies were hopping skipping and dancing all around and eating chocolate matzo for the chocolate seder.

But it was sitting down to speak to the rabbi at his breakfast table about joining his shule that made me know he had the direction and vision that I wanted in a community of faith. He had thrown off the formality of the large sanctuary for the intimacy of the little shule in the building; he had joined a group of faith-based African American leaders in the city to work towards social justice in our incarceration problem. He had started a blog where he said the most flak he got was when he brought up Israel, racism, or gun control. And it wasn’t but just a few hours after joining the synagogue that Israel and Palestine escalated its war again and threw off the whole warm fuzzies of my reJEWveNATION.

I went back to the Jew in the Lotus to a passage where Kamenetz quotes Joseph Goldstein, who says, “One reason I don’t feel so connected, and this may be a totally exoteric dimension of Judaism, but I was never comfortable with all its nonuniversal aspect. It seemed separatist to me. The whole notion of the chosen people. This is true of all Western religions. They are not so much talking about the universal nature of the mind, but rather a belief system. If you believe, you are part of a certain group. If you don’t, you’re outside of that.”

Kamenetz goes on to quote Thubten Chodron who “felt Jews emphasized their own suffering too much. ‘I felt very uncomfortable when I got into high school with Jewish paranoia. This whole feeling of unrelatedness to the rest of humanity because you’re Jewish.

I grew up in the time of the Watts riots, with black people saying they wanted equal rights. So were women and Chicanos. That made a lot more sense to me than this Jewish protectorate. I moved into the sphere of social action, taking what I learned about suffering from my Jewish background but going well beyond the narrow Jewish limit to which it was applied.’”

Allen Ginsburg, Kamenetz writes, “said in a 1992 interview that he agreed with the former United Nations resolution stating that Zionism is racism. ‘And the fact that everybody is so screamingly angry Zionism can’t be called that is even worse.’”

And I find my own mixed feelings in these passages; once I had dispelled with Judaism and was simply another wandering Jew, who had left the tribe’s system of belief, it made it easy to sit at a table where everyone was throwing stones at the Jews in Israel and talking about how horrible and racist they are, or when anyone brought their suspicions to the table about Jews who run the banks in the U.S. or Hollywood or just about any business enterprise that a good portion of Americans believe are concentrated in Jewish hands and controlled with blood money. It was easy to be undercover.

And now it’s not so easy. My reJEWveNATION and the bringing my African American son into the fold changes everything, all that was is different, all that will be must change, all that could be has to be realized, and all that is just got even more complicated.

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The Middle of Nowhere

July 13th, 2014

Who said the middle of nowhere is the center of someone else’s universe? I don’t know but I hear ya.

Recently, someone in D.C. said that in a poll of those making under $75k a year, 100% said their financial situation has grown worse in the last four years. There you have it. Here in a city where poverty and neglect are as common as crawfish, I’ve entered the hard times with the rest of them. I left this city to chase my fortune in 1990 and returned in 2005 on top of the world, and had some serious Come to Jesus’s since then that have left me hustling – not working – hustling like a two bit pimp.

This is the reason why my new refrain is “I’m exhausted” and I’m not the lone ranger here because at least I get to work from home, I think of the other parents who are working two and three jobs to put food on their children’s table and I mean grueling work – cleaning toilets, mopping floors, stepping and fetching and what do I have to complain about? Recently, my prayers for work were answered, only they were answered all at once and that has put me in a cyclone of having to do, and getting it done, and yelling.

Yes, I’m reduced to yelling STELLA about 1,500 times a day and I’m yelling at Tin because he doesn’t LISTEN and I’m yelling at myself in the mirror about a body that is not responding to exercise and just lumps there, lumping along and getting doughier as I watch myself disappear in the full length mirror. I’m a YELLER. A HOLLERER. A WAILER. And I know that just going back to my meditation would help stem the tide, and yet, I can’t find my way back right now because I’m too damn busy to think clearly.

In the era when I was on top of my game, sitting in a hotel in New York, listening to all these powerful women in media, the keynote speaker was sitting next to me – attractive – we both were, our hair nicely blown out, our Prada shoes touching – she said the best time in a woman’s life is when she had let go of the trapeze and before she caught the next one – it was that interstitial space, up in the air, where all things are possible. And yet, here I am, having been forced to let go of the death grip of my old bar, and I’m HOLDING MY BREATH, when I’m not SCREAMING, and so I’m still not seeing it because it’s the bar that’s coming that is going to save me.

And still I have faith – and that is a miracle in and of itself.

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The Big Idea is the Simple One

July 11th, 2014

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The Truth Bomb

July 10th, 2014

Recently, I was in a room where I was asked if I could accept multiple truths. Knowing what I now know after more than half a century of living, I said yes, it’s not easy, but I could sit with it. On Columbus Day this year, a friend posted on Facebook that Christopher Columbus was a Portuguese Jew and I sort of laughed, amused, because that is the equivalent of saying Shakespeare was a Jew – who knows at this point really, since there are so many conjectures as to who these people were. And why would we claim him anyway?

However, it was on further interaction along these lines that I realized what would make an African American point out that Christopher Columbus was a Jew – the old conspiracy theory that Jews are responsible for everything wrong in the world – it is authenticated by Louis Farrakhan’s assertion that the Jews were indeed the real originators of the slave trade and that they were the ones who brought the millions of Africans on the Middle Passage? Here I find a convenient truth. For every white person who likes to say, well Africans sold their own people into slavery and slavery was there way before it was here, now we have an African American saying well really, all along, it’s the Jews who started the whole mess.

And so lately, with the escalation of Israel and Palestine over the brutal murder of four young boys, I’ve come to hit a wall on what other truth I can sit comfortably with in a room. After helping to organize a rally for the kidnapped Nigerian girls, I bristled when I saw a hashtag that said #bringbackourboys referring to the three Israeli youths who were kidnapped. It’s not easy to look inside your soul and see the contradictions, but I truly felt no innocence with these boys when a Jewish friend posted on Facebook about the horror of their killing. Why?

Because having been raised in the Zionist tradition, having watched my father, uncles and brothers all give generously to Israeli bonds and having been born a Jew and been sent to Israel to be re-Jewed due to my crush on a Catholic boy, I could not help but feel strongly for most of my life that Israel was the last frontier for Jews everywhere anywhere. And yet, my truth was shattered when sitting in Professor Stephen Ambrose’s world history class preparing for an exam, Dr. Ambrose said: “The Israelis have become like the Nazis.”

Okay, STOP, that wasn’t what I was expecting to hear from this great historian, who was actually married to a Jew.

And so I entered into a debate with him in his office the next day, where I came away with different truths, probably best expressed in Ari Shavit’s comprehensive story of Israel [My Promised Land] where he says:

On the one hand, Israel is the only nation in the West that is occupying another people. On the other hand, Israel is the only nation in the West that is existentially threatened. Both occupation and intimidation make the Israeli condition unique. Intimidation and occupation have become the two pillars of our condition.

Most observers and analysts deny this duality. The ones on the left address occupation and overlook intimidation, while the ones on the right address intimidation and overlook occupation. But the truth is that without incorporating both elements into one worldview, one cannot grasp Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Any school of thought that does not relate seriously to those two fundamentals is bound to be flawed and futile. Only a third approach that internalizes both intimidation and occupation can be realistic and moral and get the Israel story right.

Israel and Palestine are at war – make no mistake, it has escalated. And this is not my first rodeo people, my lack of sympathy with the #bringbackourboys was a reaction to the senseless killing of all children in Israel no matter what their background and the lack of outcry for all of them, not just some of them. I stand with Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir’s father, the Palestinian boy who was killed as retribution for the three Jewish youths: “I am against kidnapping and killing,” his father said. “Whether Jew or Arab, who can accept the kidnapping and killing of his son or daughter? I call on both sides to stop the bloodshed.”

It’s funny, I was just going to submit an article to Kveller about enrolling me and my son in a conservative synagogue here in New Orleans, where I went to speak to the rabbi about membership and our conversation unfolded into one on Israel, Judaism, racism, the high U.S. incarceration rate, diversity, pedagogy vs. culture, and next thing I know I’m looking at Facebook post that sort of exploded with anti-Israel sentiment and accusations of racism on the part of Jews against the Palestinians – as if there is one story in Israel and it’s that Jews are evil. And by Jews, I mean white Jews because God knows everyone else is flawless over there in the Middle East.

Yes, folks now is the time to declare white Jews evil, because as soon as Israel does something – in defense or offense – the world takes to its anti-semitic bullhorn to decry how Jews are and have always been haters. Except of course, Black Jews who are more real than European Jews – I wonder how a European Jew who was relocated to Israel during or after the Holocaust, who had her entire family perish in a concentration camp would feel about this truth? At some point does that truth matter to her? After years of growing up and wondering if I would confess to my Judaism if a plane was hijacked and I was asked by the terrorists the question, I can now say that my answer would be – well, I thought I was, but honestly now I don’t know, it depends on whose truth you want, mine or other people’s.

My mother converted to Judaism, and in Israel, the ultra Orthodox’s would tell me I’m not Jewish. As a matter of fact, on my 40th birthday which I celebrated at the home of a Jewish friend, he greeted my birthday celebration with a statement: “Well, in fact you are not really Jewish, you are only really half Jewish.” Again, multiple truths.

I reached out to a friend in Jerusalem who is part Ashkenazic and part Sephardic – we met on Facebook over the subject of kosher soul food. We shared our Judaism and being Sephardic in common. I told her that a conversation on FB had occurred where several African American friends were touting Israel as the evil empire and that I had concerns because I felt it was similar to when George Bush was our president and everyone hated Americans because they thought we all wanted to kill Muslims, conquer the world, and starve our own children (read: not true). Similarly, all Jews want to rid Israel of Palestinians and believe that apartheid measures are the best way to handle the problem (read: not true).

Her response was:

Hi there beloved Rachel!

I’ll cut straight to the chase:
1. People have this annoying need to simplify everything in to binary dichotomies like good/ evil, war/ peace, hate and love, etc. – when in fact reality is way more complicated than that.
2. There’s a difference between radical people who’re looking for action and use heated moments to act without control. There’s a very wide range of thoughts on the political matter here, but I think that to sum it up, everybody on both sides wants peace, but then complicity becomes when you ask: what kind of peace and what are they willing to let go of, in order to gain that so called peace.
3. If you ask me, and you did, we are in a catch 22 – if Israel becomes a dual-nation state, then we lost the only Jewish state we had… and I have no doubt in my mind Jews should have a state, even if I don’t define myself as a Jew, they were ‘a people’ way before they were a religion… now if we stay a one-nation state then these kinds of wars will keep going, there’s no ending to that.
4. Now talking about racism – not every hate has to be linked to race, not only that this term has a different use and meaning in the US, because here Jews and Muslims are from the same ‘race’, we share the same dad, remember? Which is kind of weird in itself because how can two religions be based on a biological father, but let’s leave that alone — this is a national conflict on land between two groups of people with a shared history and the hatred that comes from it is not racist, it’s a national conflict. The war in Sarajevo wasn’t about race because they were Eastern Europeans and here it’s race because it’s Palestinians and Israelis? Because we are from the Middle East and not Europe? I’ve never heard of that race…

Sadly, like all attempts to identify race, even races have sub races – take our own “race” – the Sephardim, for everything that my African American friends say here about how Ethiopian Jews have been treated once the Israeli Air Force airlifted them out of their country into the welcoming arms of Israel (I say this sarcastically), this is the truth of the Sephardim, my people, in Israel as told again by Ari Shavit:

The Zionist story is also simple and cruel, I think. Israel was to have been home to the Jewish people of Eastern Europe__that is what the state was designed to be. But between 1939 and 1945, the Jewish people of Eastern Europe almost ceased to be. Having no other choice, Zionism turned eastward. The result was ironic. In 1897, when Zionism was gaining momentum, only 7 percent of the world’s Jews were Oriental. In 1945, after the Holocaust, only 10% of the world’s Jews were Oriental. But in Israel, by 1990, over 50 percent of Jewish Israelis were Oriental.

When I was a child, Oriental Jews were not recognized as such. Although they already constituted almost half of Israel’s population, they were oppressed and ignored. In an odd sort of way they were present and not present, belonging and not belonging. They were followed by a constant cloud of doubt and suspicion. They were not our lot, not really us.

If you look at Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches you will see that this is not even just a human trait, it is also belongs to Sneetches because some of them put stars on their bellies to distinguish themselves as better than the ones “with no stars thar.” I digress because in all honesty in contemplating all of these multiple truths that I am being forced to sit with in a the same room, I can’t help but think of the absurdity and irony of the Sneetches almost as if Dr. Seuss were the real history scholar here.

I’m going to write that article for Kveller about why I chose to join Shir Chadash with my son and how I feel about that from a transracial family/parent perspective someday but not today. Today, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that four young boys were killed in Israel and it has sparked a civil war, meanwhile more than two hundred girls were kidnapped in Nigeria and the government’s incompetence in finding those girls is mind numbing.

I responded to my friend in Israel that there are always haters, but I am looking for the healers, where are they right now in Israel?

Hi Rachel, sorry for the late response… Ii was sitting to write you last night and then the alarm went on and i needed to run to the safe room, then again, and again, so after 5 times of 3 floors up’s and down’s – i decided to respond today (while i’m at work… shhh…)

well about what the rabbi said, Israel is the only country who’ll accept any Jews…. Yemenites, Ethiopian, Latin, whatever… that’s the thing, it sounds like a broken record sometimes, but history has shown time and time again that Jews are hunted, and i don’t want to check and see what will happen again if they/ we won’t have our own place anymore. We’re trying to be better about how we treat ‘the other’ and we’ve got a long way to go, but overall, we’re okay. better than other states, less okay than others.

about the healers- i don’t really know, i mean, it’s amazing to experience these wars and situation via facebook, i’m not really out in the streets seeing what happens and i try to minimize the time i spend in front of the idiot box, they never really say anything, so i don’t know… but what i do know, is that the national conflict is bigger, or at least to most people, feels out of their hands, on both sides. womyn in the Palestinian territories (not even to mention Gaza strip) have no voice, there were a few attempts to gather womyn on both sides to speak in the same voice, but then you put the Palestinian womyn at risk (for a womyn to speak her mind? for real? this is the middle east….) and also, in many ways, less violent but still, Israeli womyn. the youth in Israel aren’t that active, they’re numb, sadly. it’s a bad combination of numbness, distrust in the system, confusion and kinda ‘getting used to it’.

i’ll say it like this, I’m 30 years old, i’ve been through 10-15 wars (depends how you count them), i have friends from down south who spent, in their whole life time more time in the ‘safe room’ than out of it… not to blame any side…. but think about the reality created for people who lives their life like that… in NOLA terms, think about it like mother nature and the hurricanes were another nation… you know what i mean? people sadly don’t look for healers, they’re looking for someone to blame and to take they’re rage out on.

this morning before i even got to work, a missile exploded in my hometown, and i try to be as rational as i can (you know me already…) but i can understand how emotional it is for people who go through shit like this EVERY DAY. It truly can and will, drive a person insane.

and about racism… i hear you sister… i got the title ‘Shvartzeh’ which means darkie… but unlike you, i’m actually dark. In Israel people are always so surprised that my mom is half Syrian half Turkish ’cause she’s as white as you are, seriously, ”scary white” as you said. Have you had any issues with Ashkenazi Jews with Tin being accepted out there in NOLA, the south, the US?

there were some African American Jewish people i’ve interviewed during my research and they all came up with harsh stories about not being accepted, by ‘white’ Jews….

Hugs!

As I write an ageless battle is being waged:

1) To what people does Israel belong?
2) Do Jews need a Jewish state?
3) What ethnic background was Christopher Columbus?
4) Who are the real Jews?
5) What is the easy solution to the Israel/Palestinian conflict?
6) Can you accept multiple truths?

and last, but not least, in the golden words of Rodney King:

7) Can we all just [ever] get along?

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