…gushing from the spouts of drains in Tsfat, the highest point in Israel. It’s a part of each and every one of us, no matter what language we were born to speak. PEACE!
TSFAT/SAFED, ISRAEL, DECEMBER 2013
I am an Israeli citizen and I denounce the immense and unnecessary loss of life that is being perpetrated by both the Israeli military and Hamas.
Like everyone, I have been consumed with the images and news from Israel/Palestine over the past two weeks. My father was born in Haifa to German Jewish refugees who had to restart their lives in a completely foreign place. They started again when they left Israel for New York and again with a move to Chicago. I was always taught that the history of the Jews is one of courage despite displacement. We survived the Holocaust, the pogroms in Russia, we fled the Spanish Inquisition and as the Torah tells us, made our epic escape from Egypt into “The Promised Land.” They tell us how strong we are, how we shall never give up hope, how the light will never go out.
Since I was a kid we have always lived with this kind of news: of bus bombs, mall bombs, rockets, plane hijackings, house razing, water wars, rock-throwing, wall-building, settlements and barbed wire. We have become paranoid and angry and have turned most of our resources towards developing the technology of war.
We must acknowledge the violence and hatred that has been inflicted upon us in the past, but we must cease to perpetrate it! We must find peace within ourselves, with our religions, with our souls to have the courage to stand up and say NO! I hold the rage and pain of my ancestors in my heart just like the rest of us, yet I choose to stand and shout PEACE!
I am sick of a one-sided Judaism that requires hands-down support for everything Israel does; I am sick of an Israel that purposely eliminates pre-1948 histories; I am sick of an Israel that turns away refugees; that forces its children to sleep with guns; that builds walls and cultivates the culture of war— all in the name of GOD! I am sick of civilian shields; using mosques to store weapons; I am sick of martyrdom and terrorism and kidnapping and rape and executions. AND I AM SICK OF THIS WAR!
While in Israel over the winter, I spent a lot of time with my family, taking walks, taking pictures, and meditating on these issues. I’ve been searching for a moment to share some of my images with my friends and family and I know that this is it. I refuse to replicate the horrific images of blood-bathed toddlers, collapsed buildings, or handsome soldiers, rather I leave you images of the most basic of human needs— water. Gushing water flowing from every gutter of the highest city in Israel, the holy city of Tsfat (Safed), a town that was the main landing point for Spanish Jews fleeing the Inquisition. A town that was the site of major earthquakes, revolts, and massacres, but also where mystical Judaism, Kabbalism, and mystical Islam, Sufism, both developed and learned from each other, meditating, philosophizing and teaching, singing and cooking and praying.
In Lurianic Kabbalism, which was developed in Tsfat, the story of creation begins with “tohu v-vohu,” chaos and emptiness, and the light of God pouring into vessels that are too weak to support its sublimity. The vessels shatter and the divinity of God is expelled into shards, each containing a piece of the divine light. The concept of “Tikkun Olam,” of “repairing the world,” an oft-used phrase throughout my childhood, stems from this creation myth. It is our purpose, as humans all bearing the spark of God within us, to help in rebuilding, to reassemble the fractured pieces by realizing our inherent unity and acting upon it by spreading love and peace.
Bombs and weapons and walls are NOT tools for rebuilding, they are objects of evil that are distracting us from our most important task: becoming whole again. We must say NO to the governments that continue to tear us apart, no matter what nationality we claim, what passport we carry.
When I saw my grandmother’s passports for the first time— the two German Reisepässe, one with and without a swastika; one Palestinian passport under British mandate; one Israeli darchon from 1948; and one American, I asked her what nationality she identified with. And she told me she didn’t have one, that she didn’t feel at home anywhere. One day soon I will show my grandchildren my passports, stamped, worn, in all their obsolete glory, and say— “I feel at home everywhere.”
Sending Love & Peace to all my friends and family around the world from a table in the International Languages Department at the Central Library in Los Angeles.