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July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
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What Will Happen To My Promise?


Daddy, you’ve been gone now for over two years. The day, the minute, is as clear now as the moment it happened. The murderers waited for you behind the olive trees in the grove on the side of the road – the one the IDF was determined to uproot after Miriam was murdered there. But the Israeli Supreme Court disallowed it. And you, Daddy, paid the price.

In the dusk of the approaching night, they waited for you. Your car never made the turn. That orchard was finally uprooted. But too late for you, Daddy. Too late for me.

I know, Daddy, that you can hear everything that is going on down here. You know, of course, Daddy, that our town, our home, is slated to be turned over to the same murderers who destroyed our lives and the lives of so many others.

The prime minister, it seems, has decided that Israel as a nation has come to the end of the road. He’s tired, I guess, unable and unwilling to continue the struggle for survival. He says that by turning over our home to the murderers Israel will have a better chance to defend itself. How, Daddy? How will his retreat, his surrender accomplish that? The way it did before 1948? Before 1967? It’s very confusing.

Remember the stories you told me about the Holocaust? About the Nazi stormtroopers, the SS, the Gestapo, the frenzied crowds of Hungarian peasants, the hordes of Romanians, Lithuanians, Poles – there were so many, I forget some of the names.

In a deliberate voice you would tell me about the Jews being forced out of their homes, into the streets and onward to the gas chambers. Homes that were built over generations, towns soaked with memories, emptied of their Jewish residents.

I remember the fiery anger in your eyes and the sudden gentleness as you caressed my face and smiled. I remember the words with which you would always finish the stories: ?Never again, child. Never again will Jews be forcibly expelled. Never!?

Daddy, were you wrong?

What’s going on, Daddy? Last night, on the radio, I heard Sharon say that he will throw out anyone who refuses to go willingly. This means, Daddy, that Mommy and I are going to be thrown out of our home if we refuse to go. Sounds like the Nazi command you always imitated. Juden raus, I believe were the words you used. 

I heard him, Daddy. We will have to leave, whether we like it or not. Why, Daddy, why?

We discussed this in class and, well, they would never do this to the Arabs living in the village across the road. The teacher said the world would never tolerate an expulsion of Arabs from their homes. The world would consider it ‘ethnic cleansing and inhumane.’ If that is so, why is the world not protesting my expulsion? In fact, the teacher said, the world is cheering on the prime minister.

Why, Daddy? 

Daddy, my Daddy. I miss you so much. I remember how they spoke about you. ‘Eulogy,’ they called it. They put you into the deep, black hole in the ground and covered you with the dirt that was piled up on the side. My head was spinning and my eyes were blurred. A gentle hand touched my shoulder. I looked up into Rabbi Ephraim’s teary eyes.

‘Kaddish,’ he whispered.

We returned home. People came and people went. But you, Daddy, you never came back. I would visit your grave (as I do now) up on the hill. I would bring you my homework and sit there telling you about school. I felt your closeness, though my heart ached to see you again. I promised you that, some day, I would build my house there on that other hill so that I would always be close to you. I promised, Daddy.

When they force us to go, Daddy, what will happen to my promise to build that house on that hill? And Daddy, will you remain here, on the hill, alone? Who will come to visit you? Daddy, how can they make me leave you?

About the Author: Isaac Kohn is senior vice president for Prime Care Consultants.


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