Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Young Jew

After a long trip to Hungary and a long week of jetlag I am now back and trying to catch up with my readings and study. I just wanted to share some interesting experiences I gathered during my flights back to the Old Continent.

I met this Jewish guy on the flight from Chicago to JFK. He was abou 17 years old, traveling (but not sitting) with his father, who sat 2 rows behind us. He asked me where I was headed and I asked him the same. He was on his way back home -- to Israel. He lives in Tel Aviv and was on a Passover vacation/visit in Chicago because that is where his mother was from. So he is Israeli-American. We chatted, he wanted to know if I was going to be needing the sickbag that I was holding desperately -- due to my claustrophobia :-)

The chatting was going on, he told me so many interesting things about living in Israel, and then I asked him how they -- i.e the people in Israel -- felt about the war in the Ghaza Strip. He told me this issue was never going to be solved as long as both parties are "hitting back". He told me stories about how the Hezbollah used the civilians to hide among them and attack from their midst. As the young boy explained this to me, I could feel tension building up in the row right behind us. Three women were sitting there, obviously overhearing us, and after a while they started shouting and sceaming at my new young friend, accusing him of not telling the truth and misleading me therefore, then they went on and on about how their fathers/grandfathers/lovers got killed by Israeli forces.The boy was surprisingly kind and polite in telling them that he was talking to me and not to them but he assured them about their right to have and share their opinions. Only in a civilized way, not shouting and screaming.

It was a really strange experience for me but it was also obvious that our young friend was used to such situations and was amazingly cool about it -- especially considering his young age.

When we got off the plane he and his dad went to find their flight to Tel Aviv and I went to find mine to Brussels. I told him I was sorry for asking that stupid question that made those ladies mad. He said it was OK, he said this happens all the time. He amazed me with his wisdom -- and he is 17!

Now I am trying to finalize my reading session and questions so that I can send them to Rabbi S. And tomorrow I am meeting my "project", the lady who has been helping a lot of Jews during the war here, in Budapest, by hiding them in her house, delivering them food in the ghetto, and so on. She will be my project, well, an interview with her.

Before I continue with the interview -- I only meet her tomorrow to discuss about the process of the interview -- I thought I would let you all know so that if you have anything you want me to ask her, please feel free to write them down either here, in a comment, or via email to me. I would love to hear what you would love to hear.

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