I too go to Hevron.
I visit there all the time actually, since I was a little girl.
I go there with my Teudat Zehut held proudly in my pocket.
I go as a Jew, my Canadian passport stashed away, forgotten at home.
Because I may be a Canadian, but this is my homeland and I will not hide who I am. I may wear different hats and represent a different persona to different people but there is one thing that I am, and will always be, regardless of who stands before me: I am a Jew and an Israeli citizen.
My father’s parents first visited Hevron right after the 1967 war. The Arabs there stared at them in shock, Jews alive and well walking the streets of Israel freely and proudly.
The war was a true victory for Israel considering that up until their victory it appeared to the entire world as if Israel was going to be destroyed and that the Jews would be pushed into the sea. It was because the world actually believed that Israel’s demise was imminent that they had compassion for our predicament.
I remember my grandfather once told me to remember to never fear any man, to only fear God. I try to keep that in mind in almost everything I do in my daily life even when it seems to be a huge challenge.
I go to Hevron, pronounced with a “v” as a Jew. I visit the museum there that my mother’s mother dedicated in my grandfather’s memory upon his passing, dedicated to the memory of the Jews who were killed in the 1929 massacre, a brutal massacre where women and children were grossly attacked and mutilated.
Yes, I am surrounded by Jewishness and loving every minute of it.
Because I too sit with Arabs both secular and Muslim in Jerusalem and in the Gush Etzion region, but I represent myself, my Jewish self. I see the Jews and Arabs who do business together, who are open and honest about who they are and where they come from. There is a feeling of understanding and mutual recognition that we are different and living in the same area, raising our families and trying to do the best we can despite and because of the political situation.
I can sit and be friendly because that’s who I am, when I am at ease.
And I can be at ease because I know that I am in a safe zone, with soldiers there in case things go wrong.
That reminds me.
In three months I am hoping to have my son read from the Torah for the first time, on the day of his Bar Mitzvah, at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron. I would love to host you all there.
Just let me know. You are all welcome.