Shoshana Lavan
Shoshana Lavan

Who is a Jew? What is a Jew?

לא עוצרים לרגע❗️❗️❗️❌❌אומרים_לא_לגירוש_העבריים❌❌למי שפיספס את הראיון היום בהוט 3 בתוכנית סוגרים חשבון עם אדווה דדון, הנה לכם.

Posted by Ashriel Moore on Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Rushing around mid-morning, doing all the activities I deem important: coming in from school, unpacking my bag, setting a little homework for my students and sending them a beautiful love song (we are studying ‘Wuthering Heights’), organising the rest of my day, knowing I have this much time to write, this much time before I teach, this much time to make our little boy lunch. And my husband too, running around, still in his tennis gear, cleaning the bedroom ceiling of our old kibbutz house full of damp, but at the same time on the phone, working out if the next peace event will even go ahead because of this new stream of the Covid pandemic… and within all this rushing and self-importance and busyness comes a knock at the door, and a tall athletic looking black man begins talking in Hebrew to me. I can barely understand a word with all the noise in the house and my own rushing thoughts – so I ask him to speak English. Suddenly this beautiful American accent comes fluently out of his mouth. He begins to explain he is raising money for a court appeal because the Israeli authorities are threatening to deport the Black Hebrews of Dimona.

I had heard of them but had never met someone from their community.

“We’ve been in Israel for three generations,” he said. “We serve in the army. We are peace-loving vegans. We keep the laws of Judaism and we love this country.”

We invite him in, give him coffee and vegan cake – how fortuitous he has landed in a vegan household! But how fortuitous too, he has landed in our household.

I ask him his full name: Yair Israel. The irony.

He tells us they would have nowhere to go – after three generations they will no longer be welcome in America either.

I watch the short film he sends me: he and his friend Ashriel Moore being interviewed by Adva Dadon on Hot 3’s ‘Closing the Account, telling their story:

לא עוצרים לרגע❗️❗️❗️❌❌אומרים_לא_לגירוש_העבריים❌❌למי שפיספס את הראיון היום בהוט 3 בתוכנית סוגרים חשבון עם אדווה דדון, הנה לכם.

Posted by Ashriel Moore on Tuesday, June 29, 2021

He shows me the legal documents proving who he is, what charity he is working for, ‘Aliyat Hashachar’, and when the court case will be. Wednesday 19th January at 10 am.

“They really want to throw you out of the country?” I ask, totally incredulous.

My husband gives me a look as if to say, “Didn’t you even know that?!”

But I didn’t know it. I’m an Olah Hadasha. I teach English literature in a high school, and younger children to speak, read and write English; I work for various organisations to try and create peace between Arabs and Jews. Not for one minute did it occur to me I would also have to fight for people who love Judaism and risk their lives for the country, to have the right to stay here!

And then I see age-old arguments on social media. They are not ‘halachically’ Jewish. Their roots are not ‘properly’ Jewish. This country is not theirs, by right.

Wow.

Every week here people, claiming to be Jews, use violence on others to state their ‘claim’ to this country. Not only are they bigoted, misguided and extreme, but they are also breaking the very foundation of the laws of Judaism: to love thy neighbour as thyself. They are also destroying our Declaration of Independence: Israel ‘will be based on freedom, justice and peace’; ‘it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.’

If anyone needs to leave this land, it’s the hilltop settlers who are giving Jews a terrible name throughout the world, Jews who claim to be Jewish and yet who are going against EVERYTHING Judaism stands for. We do not kill our neighbours. We do not settle on others’ land.

What’s more, let’s look at what the extreme religious communities are doing. Throwing stones at Jews they deem to be not religious enough? And worse still, not even serving in the army. Not even believing in the State of Israel. And yet they live here. And they have been told by governments they are welcome to live here. What do they contribute to our country?

I listened to Yair’s story in amazement, astonished and ashamed. Ashamed at my country. Ashamed at the way he is being treated. His son is serving in the army; as did he; and his parents. His love of this country and that of his community is so fervent and sincere, they would do their utmost to protect us. And yet that same country is abandoning them.

My husband and I put our plans on hold that day. I stopped writing, and he stopped cleaning the ceiling. We are safe here, in our kibbutz. We do not have to worry about losing our home or being forced to leave.

So, we got to work, asking our community to support the Black Hebrews of Dimona and asking the government and peace organisations we work for to do the same.

And now I am writing here, too, to ask you to help. Any money you can donate, or support you can give, will be so gratefully received.

The bottom line? All those who deserve the title of ‘Jew’ because they keep the fundamental principles of Judaism, working for love and peace, and all those who work to make the State of Israel a better place, belong here.

There are plenty of people who do not fulfill these simple requirements. Perhaps we should consider deporting them.

About the Author
Shoshana Lavan is a published author, high school teacher of English Literature and Language, teacher of English as a foreign language and most importantly, a very proud mother of her gorgeous toddler. She has recently made Aliyah, is an aspiring peace activist and a committed vegan. A keen runner, she is loving the mountains and glorious sunshine in this wonderful country.
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