Debby Titlebaum Neuman

Indigenous people

From my village I can see a third of the country’s coastline, we have spectacular sunsets, especially in the winter.  This country is not the one I grew up in but the one I returned to. My grandparents never set foot here but spoke of it incessantly because this is the homeland of my ancestors, the birthplace of the mothers of the world.  I imagine the first women hiking these hills with babies strapped to their backs, scarves flowing, picking grapes and dunking in the fresh springs.  It is easy to imagine because it is how we look again, at least where I live. It was only 75 years ago when we, as a people, finally returned to our homeland.  After 2000 years of exile, 2000 years that included pogroms and genocide, we returned home; beaten, worn, and weary; but not spent.  Some of us chose to disassociate from our tumultuous past and others have been trying to remember who we once were.

We are people of the book, people of the heart, and people of the land.  Our forefathers were guided by the moon and the stars as they listened to the maiden voice of G!d, wandering with their sheep to the north, towards the sea, to the East, and to the desert.  Our roots are the roots of the world, touching the very center of creation.  That is why the Jewish people are still here despite all the odds.  Our branches may be in all states of disrepair, some of them violently torn off, blood drenching the earth. The stench feels like it will kill us and yet history has proven that we will grow stronger.

Now is the time to remember what it means to be a people with a purpose, a people standing on the shoulders of holy kin who have walked this very land since the beginning of time. The modern world creates narratives to feed the masses; slogans of identity. In a world where so many are disconnected from their own families and are desperately seeking a place to belong, identity is a hot commodity.  Tell them what will make them ‘liked’ and they flock to it like pigeons to breadcrumbs.  They have a few soundbites of information that are as factual as Twinkies are nutritious; but it makes them feel good.

We don’t feel good, not right now.  In our hardship we embrace each other more, witness more random acts of kindness, give what we can, and know who the real enemies are.  We connect to our families, our heritage, our tribe.  We have a long history of oppression and we are resilient.  We work hard and we have achieved so much that they label us colonialists; an absurd fabrication since we are truly just an indigenous people trying to live peacefully in our land.

About the Author
Debby is a mother, writer, childbirth educator, spiritual teacher, forest gan manager, and doula. When she is not teaching, writing, or attending births she can most often be found wandering the Judean hills with her five daughters, foraging wild edibles, strumming her ukelele, and feeling gratitude at the wonders of creation.
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