So ... I've been thinking a lot and this trip for me has been a little bit of a search for self. Finding all my relatives, we've been all comparing stories and snippets of our history and who we are and trying to get our family trees straight. I have discovered, for example, that there are a lot of people on my grandfather's side of the family who are good at maths. I didn't know that - one cousin was a maths teacher, another trained as an architect and his kids are doing maths and industrial design degrees at university. So, me being an engineer kinda fits in with that too - that's kinda cool - I always thought the maths maybe came from the other side of my family. Now, maybe not.
Also I have been trying to piece together our family stories - who is from where, what happened to whom and how people met each other and married and so on. I even tried to find out a bit about my grandfather's first wife and family. I guess I am a bit disappointed from that aspect because pretty much all of it now is second hand and everyone has a different story. Now, that part of my family background can only ever be mythology or a series of stories that don't quite fit together. Even my mother and uncle's versions differ.
So, on the one hand I've been on this quest of who am I, who/where do I come from, on a family level. Who is my family, what is our story? And that's been really cool - especially finding out that our sense of humour spans geography and language. On the other hand, I've been on this journey of who is my people, the Jewish people, and how do I fit into that? I guess as you grow up, and you become an adult, it's time to choose the framework that you want to live by, rather than how other people want you to live. And when you do that, instead of saying well I am expected to do x, y and z, it can be a little bit scary. Especially if what you choose is not x, y and z but something else. I think as a people, we are also on a bit of a journey right now to piece together our own collective story and history. So many of us have been uprouted from where our families have been for generations and now we sit down to make new roots in new places and try and take stock of what has happened.
I think I have particularly loved and become immersed and inspired by the art and the culture in Israel. So much beauty and thought and ideas have come out of such struggle and pain. There is a very vibrant art community here - from music, to painting and publishing and so on. The one thing that unites us, across the many differences as a group of people, is thought and the need to express that. I think. I dunno. That's where my head is at and then it gets a little fuzzy, cause I think that is probably true of many nations and many peoples and maybe that just makes us a nation in amongst many? Which is cool too.
What I am trying to say, probably, is that what I have found this week, and the conclusion that I have come to, is that no matter what kind of Jewish person I decide to be (in terms of practice of religion or in other ways), or am, there is somewhere that I fit in (because being Jewish is more than practicing a religion). And that it's okay because I do in fact fit into this big puzzle of a people. There is very little black and white and a great expanse of grey. I'm an engineer and that fits into my family and my people. I am a writer (and publisher) and that fits into my family and my people. I am a thinker and that fits into my family and my people. I, in fact, belong, just as I am. Whoever that may be.