A new blog… started a while ago, but never published, as I thought about what I was trying to do. I have a blog about my life as mother to thirteen girls at Shishur Sevay (www.shishursevay.com) but other currents and journeys happen simultaneously and increasingly I want to share those thoughts, those parts of my life.
Today is the first of these posts because I cannot get these words of Mahatma Gandhi out of my mind. Writing in 1938, on “The Jews”, he says:
“The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the god fearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.”
I’ve admired Gandhi all my life. My father told stories about him. in India we celebrate him. I once wrote a piece about Shishur Sevay entitled, ‘Let all our children bloom as Gandhi did.” He was a poor and sickly student and his family did not have high expectations.
Getting rid of us seems to be a common theme in history. Jews are a bit like weeds. You put us anywhere and we tend to thrive, and certainly no one yet has found a successful Final Solution. And I think after the Holocaust, you simply can’t count on our passivity.
I have a personal story to tell. When I was 18 years old I was raped at knife-point. I accepted what was happening and didn’t “fight or scream” because I was more frightened of being killed than of being raped. I believe that I survived because of my submission. Ten years later, I was visiting a commune, staying overnight in my van, when the commune was invaded by drunken men, presumed to be local police. Other women were quietly secreted into my van with me. I had no weapons but a small pen knife. I held it out, knowing that no one would ever rape me again without a fight. I fully expected to die that night. The drunken men discovered us and my dog started barking wildly. They rocked the van. The road had been blocked by their cars but there was a lone farmhouse across a large field. I started the van and plunged ahead over the field, horn blowing.. The elderly couple came running down and let us in. A bit later the men of the commune arrived and gave me a scolding for running, for disturbing what they believed could have been settled with guitar playing and singing. You see, the second time is worse, because you know the pain of being invaded, of losing the battle, and what passivity does to you, even if it’s the “rational thing to do.” After that, you never want to feel that weakness and self-condemnation again, so you fight. For Israel, the Holocaust symbolizes helplessness and passivity. Now, It’s other people’s turn to be morally superior and stop trying to exterminate us.
No, I didn’t expect to write all this today….. I guess there will be more over time.