Wednesday, June 17, 2009

L'kabeitz galuyoteinu, hashivah shofteinu

Continuing on the theme of how the brachot/blessing of the Amidah prayer call my mother, zichronah li-b'rachah (may her memory be a blessing) to mind, here are some thoughts that I spoke about between Minchah and Maariv last night:

"L'kabeitz galuyoteinu, to gather our exiles" is certainly what my parents had in mind when they made aliyah/moved to Israel. They had visited my brother in Israel--he made aliyah shortly after our wedding--and had fallen in love with it, so they decided to retire as soon as my father was eligible for the minimum Social Security and move there while they were still young enough to enjoy it.

My parents grew up in a time and place when being a Jew could be hazardous to one's health and/or wealth. While they were very fortunate to have been born and raised in a major U.S. city in the northeast, and, therefore, were spared the horrors of the Shoah (Holocaust), they feared for their safety as children and for their jobs as adults, since anti-Semitism was pretty public and accepted in the U.S., particularly before World War II, but even afterward, until legislation was passed banning discrimination on the grounds of religion. My parents simply loved the idea of "lihyot am choshi b'artzeinu, being a free people in our land," and never having to worry about being a minority again. They spent some years in the Galil (Galilee), then a while in Ashkelon, then moved to the same Jerusalem neighborhood as my brother and his then-wife and their children. When we visited them in August 2005, they were still hopping on buses and going to Midrachov Ben Yehudah (the pedestrian mall on and around Ben Yehudah Street) to shop, window-shop, and enjoy a schwarmah sandwich. My mother loved it when her and Dad's helper brought them fresh chummus, and kept pestering me, Ms. Kitchen Klutz, to try making a sauteed onion, lentils, and rice dish (majadara, mujeddara?) that's popular in Israel. She thoroughly enjoyed living in a country where there was a sukkah on every balcony and lawn during Sukkot.

"Hashivah shofteinu, restore our judges." Okay, my parents weren't judges, but they sure knew how to pick judges. My parents were very big on civic responsibility, and always voted. They were also very big on Jewish communal responsibility. They were members of and supported the local Conservative synagogue, in terms of both attendance at services and in financial terms. In addition, my mother was an active member of Hadassah. After their aliyah, and once they settled in Yerushalayim, they were very active in the Association of Americans and Canadian in Israel. My mother was particularly active in a chug/club for English-speaking olim (immigrants) with hearing loss.

Speaking of the hearing-loss chug, I received this fine tribute to my mother from a total stranger, forwarded by my uncle, my mother's brother:

We were very sad to hear about the passing away of ____.

I do hope she did not suffer though her last few months.

I still remember meeting her during my Gallaudet college [of the Deaf, in Washington, DC] years.

Since I returned to Israel in 1985 we were in contact mostly by several longs calls every few months and by visiting [ ____ ] and [ ____ ] once a year in their apt. in [ ____ ] Jerusalem.

[ ____ ] also kept me up-to-date about other members . . . who gave me my scholarship.

If there is any way by which I can be of any assistance just let me know and I'll do it.

That says it all. My mother not only accepted her hearing loss, she was active in both the U.S. and Israel in self-help groups for those with hearing loss, taking responsibility for reaching out and helping others who were dealing with the same challenge.


Blogger rivkayael said...

Your mother sounds like a remarkable woman, and this seems to have passed down to her daughter. May her memory be for a blessing.

Thu Jun 18, 11:40:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

RivkaYael, thank you for your kind words.

Thu Jun 18, 12:58:00 PM 2009  

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