Sunday, January 28, 2018

Me? Do I Have a Story?

I'm the neighbor many come to when they want to know the history of the yishuv, the return to Shiloh and early life here as a mother, the backstory of the schooling in our county Mateh Binyamin and more. But when it comes to a personal story, I'm stumped.

Unlike many of my peers, there's no heroic family Holocaust saga. My grandparents made it to America before World War One in steerage like so many similar dreamers, real dreamers. They played by the rules, paid the fees, passed the medical tests of the time, eventually learning enough English, American History and Law to pass the citizenship tests etc. They suffered discrimination, antisemitism and poverty. My paternal grandfather, like most of his relatives, began a successful business in America; they had businesses in Nasielsk, Poland, too. And everyone of them, some more some less, reduced their Jewish observance to what they considered most important, ranging from speaking Yiddish at home to not working on Shabbat even when their wasn't money for food.

A century later, here I am in Shiloh living a full Jewish Life, observing the Mitzvot my grandparents had set aside. And even more unexpected, I left America!

Do I have a story?

There's no real drama to my story. It feels so boring and trite to me.

Part of the senior citizen program I take part in includes telling our individual or family story to a couple of high school students who will write it up for the oral history project of the Diaspora Museum, Museum of the Jewish People - Beit Hatfutsot.

I don't see anything very dramatic or unique about my life. My teenage years was during the 1960's when many of us searched for a "truth." I found it in the religion I was born in, Judaism. The NCSY activities and YU-Seminars I participated in facilitated and encouraged my return to the Judaism my grandparents had abandoned. And I abandoned their refuge; I moved to Israel and live in the Biblical city of Shiloh. To me I was part of a "wave." My decisions came easily. My story is so boring.

This was taken a few years ago. I am holding my GNN67 graduation picture.


Debbie Dan said...

I love your story which I totally relate to!

Anonymous said...

You looked beautiful then, and you have moved gracefully as you are today..

Seeing you holding the picture of your granduation, brought to me this beautitul song that Barbra Streisand sang, to which many of us could relate to..

Gd bless you Batya..

Memories light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were.
Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me, would we, could we
Memories may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember we simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember the way we were

Joe in Australia said...

I don't believe your story is boring, but to the extent that a life free from persecution is therefore boring, it's what your parents and their parents and so forth wanted for their daughter. Rather than be boring, your story is what gives meaning to theirs.

Batya said...

Sincere thanks. Still hard to find a way to tell it and make it meaningful for others.

Mr. Cohen said...

WOW! The girl in that picture is red-hot! :-)

This is my story, that I published on this blog
so that it not be forgotten from Jewish History:

Greek NYC Jews and Syrian NYC Jews:

How to Determine if Israel is Judged by a Double Standard
by Zev M. Shandalov


“Is it racist to criticize the Palestinians
as the world’s most tiresome cry-babies,
with a bogus cause, and a plight that is
entirely self-inflicted?
...I see the Palestinian cause as a lie;
a lie designed to exploit Western liberal guilt...”

SOURCE: Pat Condell Finally Gets it on Israel,
2013 May 1

Mr. Pat Condell is an atheist, who
was born in Ireland around 1950 CE,
and raised in England as a Roman Catholic,
and educated in Church of England schools.
He has no Jewish ancestors and no religious
beliefs that might cause him to favor Jews.

Batya said...


Anonymous said...

Hi! Everything is a question of story telling and know-how to shape it in an interesting way. It's a question of point of view. Let's have a try with your story: unlike most of the young american jews in the sixties, you did not follow the path of assimilation. You decided to relocate your life in the country of your forefathers, in Israel. And then, you where part of the great settlement project that began after the extraordinary victory of the six day war. Being a mother in a new settlement, in the place where the old biblical time Mishkan stood for nearly 300 years, was not so easy, no at the beginning, and not when you had to go through the violent arab riots (Intifada I and II). Nevertheless, you made it, and etc, etc... Sounds great, no?

Batya said...

a, thanks
correction, almost 400 years