Thursday, March 3
Written by Eileen Lewis
We visited the Rabin Center this morning. The center’s display follows two parallel lines-Rabin’s life from the early 1920s and the life & history of Israel during the same period, with the included context of broader world events, societal and technological changes.
Presenting Israel in the context of broader events caused me to pause a few times, as I tried to integrate my personal history. The film clips from the 1920s and early 1930s showed Palestine as an exciting, vibrant undertaking. Suddenly I remembered the vague stories about my maternal grandfather leaving his wife and children in Brooklyn, and going, perhaps more than once, to Palestine. What was he thinking? Why did this Russian immigrant to America depart and then return? Was he a Zionist, or a Socialist, or a young man seeking excitement? What did he do while in Palestine? The backstory is gone.
My first trip to Israel was in 1969, with my parents and sister. This was a trip that my very secular father chose. With amazement, I have realized this week, that choosing Israel for his first (post Army) trip abroad, was an extraordinary statement. And perhaps even more so that this trip was only 2 years after the Six Day War. While my parents never articulated it, what a statement of faith and hope that showed in Israel.
At the end of our visit today, we spoke of the “what ifs.” What if Rabin had not been assassinated in 1995? Would Israel have peace with her neighbors? What if JFK had not been assassinated? Would the Civil Rights bills have been passed if LBJ hadn’t become President? And yet, while the loss of each exceptional leader causes us to wonder “what if”, it is also a reminder that one person can sometimes make great changes. Therein lies the hope. And so we said a prayer for peace.