Meredith Rothbart

I celebrate my independence

I celebrate my independence, here in Jerusalem in 2018, in absolute awe that we are here;

I celebrate my independence, cheerfully passing a neighbor whistling patriotic songs;

I celebrate my independence, holding hands with my five-year-old daughter practicing the words to Hatikvah, which has been stuck in her head for days;

I celebrate my independence, dressing my almost two-year-old boy in “kachol lavan”, blue and white, two words he can’t yet pronounce;

I celebrate my independence, with a hand over my heart, trying not to imagine where he will be stationed in 16 short years from now.

I celebrate my independence, closing my eyes and trying to connect back to my great grandparents, who fled Europe out of fear, with little hope for survival, imagining they could see us now;

I celebrate my independence, knowing that others cannot;

I celebrate my independence, just 5 meters away from my Palestinian neighbor whose business was bulldozed to the ground last week, right before my eyes;

I celebrate my independence in my country, with my family, while my Palestinian colleague, born in Jerusalem, desperately misses his wife who was deported from this land just a few days ago;

I celebrate my independence eating blue popsicles on the balcony, overlooking walls built to keep us safe, keep us free, at the expense of others.

I celebrate my independence, taking on the layers of responsibility that comes along with it.

I celebrate– that with my independence– I choose, because I can, to fight for the independence of others;

I celebrate my independence, saying Hallel, the Jewish prayer of praise and thanksgiving, and I mean it.

About the Author
Meredith immigrated to Jerusalem in 2008 from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Somehow in between studying in a religious Zionist feminist seminary and serving in the IDF, she participated in a leadership program for young Israelis and Palestinians which inspired her career in peacebuilding. Meredith co-founded Amal-Tikva (meaning hope in Arabic and Hebrew), a collaborative initiative where philanthropists, field experts, and organizations come together to support civil society peacebuilding. In the moments when she’s not pursuing peace in the Middle East, you can find Meredith at the playground near her Jerusalem home chasing her adorable kids.