It weighs a lot, this other passport – the one with the menorah embossed in gold on the front, a symbol of strength, of illumination.
It’s thinner than my American passport — just a few pages stapled together, but it weighs more than any document I’ve ever carried.
This passport that got me a free cup of coffee at Aroma in NYC once – the one written in the same language my kids write in without thinking twice that’s taken me five years to learn to read … It’s the passport that guarantees I have a place to go as a Jew no matter what … But it’s the same passport that got others killed 40 years ago in Uganda and at the Olympics in Munich
But I know that when I take it out in places that are not home – like London or Zurich or NYC, I should smile more and tip more and be kinder and gentler and fairer and smarter because this passport weighs a lot and it isn’t just any other country. It’s Israel – this place steeped in so many truths it boils over, and I am one of these truths and I represent this place — an ambassador with a nose ring and ripped jeans who tips 20% and drinks vanilla lattes and curses a lot and criticizes her prime minister and his policies because carrying this passport means I must.
Because I love this other passport, and it isn’t incidental. I CHOSE this passport – and choose it everyday, it’s meaning and the weight of it – with all my heart with all my strength and with all my might.
It’s an identity steeped in arguments and debate, in Sinat Chinam yet so much love. It’s a new passport – but thousands of years in the making.
I carry it with me and when they ask where I’m from – in a Taxi on Broadway, or at Coffee Bean on Sepulveda and Palms, when I’m carded at the airport or the bar I take out that heavy passport and I say: “I’m Israeli.”
It weighs a lot, this passport, and when the pretty girl or the handsome guy says “welcome home” at Ben Gurion airport, the weight lifts a little… But then the real work begins.