As Thanksgiving, Chanukah and 2024 approach us, many of us are facing divisions of opinions among our Jewish family members and friends. Because of our shared historical events, who would have thought that starting in 2016 with the election of the President of the United States, in 2020 with an insurrection upon our Capitol and now with the horrific tragedy in Israel, that all Jews wouldn’t be on the same page?
Jews against Jews in thoughts, perspectives and allegiances, how could this happen? Who would have thought?
Have we failed to consider that just because we are Jews that our personal frame-of-references as in life-experiences, families-of-origin and location of growing up hasn’t instilled what we take to be the emes (truth) may NOT be the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Have we failed to consider that we ALL have different truths? Yes, even Jewish truths! Who would have thought?
We can most likely agree on the truths of the destruction of the Temples in the sixth first centuries BCE, that pogroms in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are why so many of our relatives fled to America, that the Holocaust killed six million of our people and that Hamas DID attack a sleeping Israel on October 7, 2023.
Facts are one thing (especially in today’s world with instant news/viewing). But perspectives, thoughts, feelings, opinions, attitudes, contexts all come from a different place within us that are products of our upbringing and experiences and shape our differences that each individual must own. But as Jews, this may be a difficult concept to grapple with. Who would have thought?
As a world Jewish community, we take for granted that we can connect with each other, in some form or another. Just start a conversation with Jewish geography and we’re bound to find someone who knows someone who’s related to a cousin who’s married to someone we know. Never fails and often in the most unlikely places and it’s a comforting experience because we are suddenly linked to our landsman. But have we been naïve to think that as one Jew to the next, we are consistently bonded by our political and current day overviews?
Who would have thought that we could find ourselves disagreeing with our Jewish family members and friends over politics and more startling, Israel? Not inconceivable to believe we’d have different perspectives with our Gentile friends but to be on the other side of the isle with our own people over Israel, the fate of the Palestinians, a two-state solution and who lacks in humanitarian rights — Who would have thought?
Lately, I’ve heard about too many families, with sadness in their voices, who will not be together for Thanksgiving. Whatever the reasons are, logistical or fear of the elephant in the room that could disrupt conversation into anger, many grandparents will be in one place while adult children and grandchildren will be in another. At a time when giving thanks for our blessings as a family unit is craved, it’s just another Who Would Have Thought?
Gratitude for our blessings, prayers for health, peace and safety and may your turkey be juicy and tender!
As a Baby Boomer Bubbe who still feels 18 but has four grand kids to prove this is the 21 Century, Sandra writes to leave a legacy for the next generations. Her belief that these precious kids need to know their cultural and family’s past in order for them to live their future is all the muse she needs!
She has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and Cross Cultural studies, has written a family history, personal memoir and is completing her first novel.
Her grandmother’s journey to America and life is her source for her deep belief and love for Judaism.