Thursday, July 24, 2008


I came back from a trip to Paris… a very important trip. I am officially registered as Jewish. My children will not forget who they are. My heritage is not gone for ever. I’m so proud.

It took me a whole year to collect all the information I needed:
My grand-mother doesn’t have any proof of her being Jewish. She says she was too afraid to ask for any. I think that it is the guilt-feeling of marrying a none-Jew, that held her from ever going to a rabbi and asking for any written proof.

So I found myself in front of the difficult task of finding her sister, who lives in France, going to her, convincing her to give me her kettouba (an old kettouba dating from 1943, and issued in Lebanon!) , then going to the “consistoire de paris” with a big pile of paper (papers that prove links from my grand-mother to her sister, then my mother to her mother then me to my mother and grand-mother….), and proving I’m a Jewish.

I couldn’t believe how easy it was. Here I am, recognized by the Jewish community, officially.

It is just a piece of paper, and my belonging to my Jewish heritage goes a lot further than that, but it is like never having registered a born baby: the child exists, of course, but not officially. Same here, I felt that as long as I don’t have it archived somewhere, I don’t really exist.

The torch can still be passed on…

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Suppressed Memories

I started asking questions.
She always answers back in a low, fearful voice.
Does she remember Iraq? How old was she when they left? Were her parents religious? Does she speak Hebrew? Does she know her prayers? What does she remember of her traditions? What does she remember about the old Lebanon, who welcomed so many oppressed jews?
So many questions. She had been here all this time, always quiet. My grandmother kept all this for herself.
What was she thinking?? Another few years and all this heritage would have gone to waste…
One day, after she saw all the interest I was showing for Judaism, and after she begged me to be careful (like every day of the past few months), she said to me: “I always knew you were special”
Deep down inside, she was happy someone is passing the torch…

At every Jewish holiday, I try to summarize it to her: the story behind it (megilat Esther, the exodus of the Jews from Egypt…) the meaning, the symbols (like with the Seder ), the traditions during this holiday…
She rediscovered some souvenirs she had. She gave them meaning, like when she remembered looking for pieces of bread with a candle (“bedikat hametz”, a tradition just before Pessa’h) and I explained to her the meaning of this “bread hunt”, and why the use of the candle…

One day she dared to ask: “where do you think I’ll be buried?”
Her parents are buried in a Jewish cemetery, forbidden to visitors… She can never go to see their graves…