Inside Israel 3:56 AM 3/9/2014
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Life Lessons with Judy Simon
David Lev produced documentaries and television commercials before making Aliyah in 1999. He then organized Diplomatic Supplements for the Jerusalem Post. Later he led a PR mission to the British Government, aimed at increasing awareness of Israel's terrorist problems. David decided upon more practical measures by serving with a volunteer unit tasked with preventing such attacks. He has won a leading writing award for a competition hosted by A7. David is founder & editor of Aliyah Magazine, dedicated to attracting Jews to live in Israel.
Aliyah Magazine is dedicated towards bringing every Jew back home to Israel, and continues the amazing true and exclusive story of Barbara Streisand's first cousin, Dale Streisand. He faces strong hurdles in his deep desire to make Aliyah, due to past religious practices. Dale has since made teshuva, and one can only question why any repentant Jew should be denied the basic right to live amongst his people?
'Following my ex-wife’s adulterous relations and the ensuing difficulty in trying to relocate with our young daughter, Fiji had now become a tropical snare, rather than the promise of a paradise. By now, I had been gradually weaned off my devotion to Hare Krishna, but with the present turmoil in my life I was still vulnerable to anything wrapped in kindness, I wouldn’t have too long to wait before the next episode began.
The elderly welfare officer looking after our case in Fiji was very kind and always encouraged me in my daily life. As her home was close to mine, I would sometimes stop and speak with her, a welcome respite from the reality of my failed marriage. She also appealed to me to try and just visit her church. I explained I really had no interest in it. Then some of her Fijian friends from the church would stop by and just innocently talk with me.
In Fiji, though it appears that the indigenous Fijians get along with the Indians (Hindus), in reality they are far apart. Both are entrenched cultures, the Fijians with their native lifestyle intermingled with their strong belief in Christianity, and the Hindus with their own many beliefs and practices. Try to imagine: here I was on a remote island, with hardly any other Europeans around, and living far in the country’s interior. I had a three-year-old daughter to take care of practically all alone, as my ex wouldn’t stay around. My anxiety levels were running deep. Within this backdrop, members from the church would stop by offering me much needed support and company.
As previously mentioned, I still had occasional flashes of Jewish thought entering into my mind. This flame had miraculously survived, although its shadows would be cast on a deceptive religious framework, until I eventually emerged from this episode of my life and fully woke up to real Judaism. However, back then, even deceptive connections with Judaism managed to strike a resonant chord.
These friendly visitors went to their church on Saturday instead of Sunday, and they didn’t eat any pork or shellfish. I thought maybe they couldn’t be too bad? Boy, little did I know then how wrong I was! From the benefit of hindsight let me share with you that for a Jew, anything other than strict Judaism is dangerous. As we say daily in our Shema….’take care lest your heart be lured away, and you turn astray and worship alien gods and bow down to them’ Thankfully, my reawakening of Judaism meant that there was no way I would go to a Sunday church. Yet a strange brew was in the offering.
Not so long ago someone told me that if there were a shul or a Chabad House in Fiji, my life would have been different, as I probably would have accepted their guidance and assistance? Unfortunately there was none.
However, there was an almost amusing side to this episode. How far lost can a Jewish boy be than in the remote interior of a tropical island, with native Fijians believing they are the 13th lost tribe! Previously, I had spiritually survived being the close aide of the head of the Hare Krishna movement, if only I could have seen a developing pattern in my life in Fiji!
Anyway, these well-intentioned people came on Friday night with warm food and sang happy songs. I was so vulnerable; frightened I might loose my daughter, and here these church members said they would help me if possible, so I could keep my sweet child.
A Jewish father’s love for his daughter runs deep. The next few months as I was quite lonely I befriended them, and they gave me books to read. However, uppermost in my mind, I was thinking how could I get my daughter away from there? Yes, if only a Jewish outreach was in Fiji, but the island had nothing of the kind.
Meanwhile, the relationship with my now ex-wife was very noticeable to the public, as she was often seen with other men. I desperately tried to come up with some answers. She said if I gave her a certain amount of dollars she would let me have full custody of my daughter, even without access rights to her. There then followed a stressful period of dealing with the courts, lawyers and on a constant basis. When it was finally legally approved, I left that island as a bat out of hell! Just like the proverbial boomerang. I was back in Australia.
The first thing I did, was to get my daughters’ name changed to a Hebrew one, as well as give honor to my beloved mother of blessed memory. Accordingly, I named her after my late mother; my daughter was now Shoshana Ruth.
Then came a bombshell. After spending a few months in Australia, a lawyer told me that although I had full custody, the laws in that country was that if my ex-wife so wanted, she could petition the court and gain access to Ruth. This was the last thing I wanted! Somehow, by the hand of Hashem, I managed to see the American Consulate and obtained an American passport for my daughter. That was a thing almost impossible to do.
I knew if I would go to America, we would be safe…' To be continued…
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