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Another Stellar Essay from Jessica Apple

Jessica Apple has another must-read essay up on the Nextbook site.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

As a child in Houston, safe within the miniature shtetl of my grandparents’ bayou-side home, I never felt my life was in danger because I was Jewish. I felt comfortable as a Jewish Texan and could easily have waved a Texas flag which bore a Star of David instead of the Lone Star. But more than ten years ago, by the time I decided to move to Israel, I knew Jewish had trumped Texan. Now I’m the mother of two Israeli-born sons, Tom and Guy, and I’m astounded, because last month during Pesach they cornered me and asked me if I’m really Jewish. “But you don’t know anything,” Tom told me after the Seder. “You just make up the words to the songs.” Then Guy added, “And you never went to the army. And you don’t even know how old Israel is going to be.”

“Sixty,” I said.

“No,” Guy said. “Fifty-ten. After fifty-nine comes fifty-ten.”

On Israel’s fifty-tenth birthday, from the window of our Tel Aviv apartment, the boys and I watched the Israeli Air Force flex its muscles with a celebratory air show. Tom and Guy saw a few planes swooping over the Mediterranean and then went back to something more interesting—their Sony PlayStation. I’d been curious to see Tom’s reaction to Independence Day, since the message he’d brought home from school after two months of back-to-back holiday studies had surprised me. After learning about Purim, Passover, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Memorial Day, this is what Tom said: “Everybody wants to kill us. Haman, Pharaoh, Hitler, Arabs. Everybody wants to kill us.”

I can’t tell Tom he’s wrong. I do make up the words to songs in Hebrew (and in English). And I can’t lie to him and tell him that no one wants to kill Jews, nor do I want to diminish the suffering of our ancestors. But I had the notion that living in Israel I’d be passing on Jewish history and tradition to my children without the paranoia and fear my grandparents so expertly passed on to me.

Read the rest here.

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