PASSPORTS: In Space and In Time

March 16th, 2015

Written in the Negev Desert.

After determining the time was right to return to Israel from the USA, I reviewed the various ways that was managed. This would be a return even if I hadn’t already made my first visit to ‘The Land’ in 2013. A Jewish person is called a Yehudi, a Hebrew word utilizing the letters in G-d’s name along with the letter daled, (‘d’), that recalls the standard of King David whose ancestors came from the tribe of Judah. We have a ‘vertical’ passport through time, having established our nation in this region some 3,000 years ago. One of my great-grandfathers was a Rabbi and the other a descendant of the Kohanim or Priests that trace their families back to the time of the Temple. I have no claims to that depth of knowledge. Still, I must hope some of the wisdom generated over thousands of years became somewhat ingrained through the intensity of parental attention paid to the raising of Jewish children.

The return of Jewish people to Israel is not thought of as ‘immigration’, leaving Israeli statistics about movement into the country a frequent source of confusion to other nations. My preparation for this return didn’t mean I wasn’t raised as a typical American. With little emphasis given to formal Jewish education, I was taught about Jewish life via example in our New York City household with less time devoted to empty conversations on that subject. My parents talked of their personal and adult issues in my hearing, adhering to principles of marital love, respect and fairness. My father took me to his place of work many times where I was taught the vital need for integrity in business matters. Not especially religious, he brought me to synagogue on the holidays and my mother demonstrated how to keep a Kosher kitchen. That upbringing led to my desire to learn the values behind our many rituals and later perform them in my own apartments as an adult.

Jewish rituals of life help avoid the way day to day routines erode mindfulness. Simple attentions to food preparation and weekly Sabbath rest/study, enlarges life. In business, it made even the scut work,(those less pleasant aspects of a job or career), seem important. My sister, a scholar of history, lent to me an interest in the histories of all the lands where our family had dwelled over the millennia. As an American, I understood the enthusiasm of Western youth and the lightning speed of maturation towards a target that appealed to my sense of being four thousand years old. A thousand years later, Abraham’s descendant Jacob became the first Israelite and continued our ancestral drive towards enlightenment as a nation.

I now hold two passports in ‘space’ that shepherd myself and my few belongings through some of the airports and land borders of the world. Those documents tell my neighbors about the latitudes permitted in both of my temporal worlds. However, I had to build my vertical passport through time with the help of family, friends, teachers and soldiers. Whether you begin your ladder with the first farmers who tilled earth’s soil to fill the graineries of Egypt; with Abraham, the Buddha, Aristotle, Jesus or with John Locke, your journey requires an examination of both reason and raison d’être.

I have my passports in space and time. Both kinds are indispensable.

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  1. Carol Aronoff

    Enjoyed this piece.

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