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Batya Medad made aliya from New York to Israel in 1970 and has been living in Shiloh since 1981. Recently she began organizing women's visits to Tel Shiloh for Psalms and prayers. (For more information, please email her.) Batya is a newspaper and magazine columnist, a veteran jblogger and recently stopped EFL teaching. She's also a wife, mother, grandmother, photographer and HolyLand hitchhiker, always seeing things from her own very unique perspective. For more of Batya's writings and photos, check out:
An entire branch of my American relatives, descended from the same maternal Jewish grandmother has been living as christians for three generations already
Enjoy this stretched out Purim weekend. It began yesterday with The Fast of Esther, and Purim itself will be on Sunday and/or Monday. There's lots more of my writing to read on Shiloh Musings and me-ander. At present, G-d is being merciful, miraculously giving us rain, although we really don't deserve it. Isn't like the time the Purim story took place. Most of the Jewish People were more Persian than Jewish, celebrating with Achashverosh. It was only because of Ester and Mordechai that we were rescued from destruction.
Sometimes I have dreams of a cousin's child or grandchild, or children or grandchildren suddenly contacting us curious about his/her/their Jewish roots. These aren't people born and raised in traditionally anti-Semitic cultures like the young Polish man featured in a New York Times article, who went from antisemitic skinhead to Orthodox Jew. An entire branch of my American relatives, descended from the same maternal Jewish grandmother has been living as christians for three generations already.
This morning when I clicked on the article sent by the Gansteh Megillah about the young Jew in Warsaw, I thought of my cousins and of the pain my grandmother in Olam HaBa, the next world, must feel knowing that her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and their children, too, have no connection to Judaism. Some are Jewish according to Torah-Jewish Law. About all of the non-Jewish descendants of my grandparents... another sad story, in need of many prayers.
Over fifty years ago my widowed aunt took her children from the poor but very Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, where she had lived for many years. She moved to Miami, Florida, and discovered a new reality, brutal antisemitism. One of my cousins was constantly attacked. Without family support system, she encouraged her children to become like the neighbors and leave Judaism behind with the freezing weather of New York. From what I was told, she thought she was doing them a favor. No doubt that her personal connection to Judaism was weak, and she probably blamed G-d for her sorrows, a handicapped first-born, widowhood and poverty.
It was easy to keep their new religion a secret from the New York relatives. When my cousins married non-Jews, it was credited to the general intermarriage by young American Jews. Not in a million years did we ever think that my aunt had encouraged her children to live as christians.
My aunt's youngest child is a daughter, who has a number of children including daughters of her own and grandchildren from them. These children are Jewish according to Jewish Law. Do they know it? Will they ever show an interest in Judaism and return?