Sara Jacobovici – We All Have a Story to Tell; One piece at a time
Our identities are shaped by the accounts of our lives found in our stories or narratives. The word “narrative” reflects the multi-storied nature of our identities and related meanings. A common metaphor that threads its way into and across our stories is that of a journey. And these journeys are both internally and externally experienced. “Lech lecha”, God’s instruction to Abraham, symbolizes that relationship; we are constantly going somewhere and in turn we are going to “ourselves”.
Fast forward to an “Only in Israel” moment: I am sitting on a patch of beach in Tel Aviv with a handful of ulpan students. It is the end of an intensive course and we all prepared (in Hebrew) a story for our last gathering. One of the students is a young man of East Asian origin who spoke a beautiful Hebrew and was the envy of all. “Tell them what you studied at Berkeley” encourages his instructor. “Yiddish, responds the young man. “Go ahead”, says his instructor, “sing the song you learned.” This young man of East Asian descent, who grew up in the US, having studied Yiddish in Berkeley, attending ulpan in Tel Aviv, begins to sing Oyfn Pripetshik (Yiddish: אויפן פריפעטשיק ) (English: translation: On the cooking stove) a song written in Yiddish by M.M. Warshawsky (1848–1907). What a journey! What a story!
The act of storytelling is a central part of who we are. Stories help make sense of our world and our place in it and we define ourselves by a story within time. We create stories; verbally, oral and written, and non-verbally, through movement/dance, visual symbols and signs/visual arts, and sound making/music.
Where there is life, in any form, there is communication. But only humans tell stories.
Our history, our seasonal cycles, are all marked by stories. We are encouraged to tell the story, hear it and experience it through its telling.
Post on facebook: “The incredible inside story of the UN vote that re-established the Jewish state. 68 years ago today, November 29, 1947. The fate of the Jewish people was to be decided. A thrilling story with a happy ending. Watch this video — and celebrate Israel.”
MY PARENTS’ STORY:
My life has been shaped and influenced by two very important story tellers; my father (Z”L) and mother. Their styles could not be more different. My father Joseph, outgoing, flamboyant, dramatic, and witty and my mother Ida, quiet, soft spoken, and shy. Yet both passed on to me tremendous insight and a wealth of values.
Their story is reminiscent of the one we tell our children on the night of Passover. Haggadah means “the telling” and that’s what we do at the Seder table–we tell a story. I am in awe of the story being told of the Jewish people and the birth of our nationhood. And I am in awe of my parents’ stories and how they came out of a “narrow place” and survived.
My father was a natural storyteller. He was able to capture people’s attention and move them into the stories he weaved. My mother doesn’t come to storytelling naturally. She will reminisce out loud; she will remember something important or meaningful in her life and recount it. Both storytellers, however, were “telling” the same story; the story of survival. Theirs is a personal story of survival, how individuals, through oppressive and dangerous times, did what they needed to do to overcome and continue to exist. Of how they individually made their way to Israel (my father fought in the 1948 War of Independence), got married and created a family; a future.
MY BROTHER TELLING MY FATHER’S STORY:
After decades of telling other people’s stories, my brother Simcha, a documentary film maker, made a film that tells the story of my family – a place, and a time, flashing between a modern day pilgrimage to Iasi, Romania that my brother and I made, and the history of what happened in that place almost seventy years ago during fascist and communist rule.
As it traces Romania’s past, it also weaves through personal journeys, personal tragedies, and my brother’s quest to understand his own history.
My brother made the film Charging the Rhino (http://www.apltd.ca/films/display/10) that tells of how my father, who on June 29, 1941 was shot and left for dead amongst his family in Iasi, Romania. The bullet that pierced his chest just missed his heart because, at that precise moment, his heart was in contraction. He carried that bullet next to his heart for the rest of his life. He also carried the painful memory of living through Romania’s dark fascist and communist past.
When my father left Romania, he never returned. There was no family left to return to and his life was shattered into a thousand pieces.
Each shattered piece is a part of the story, yet each is a complete story in and of itself.
I TELLING MY MOTHER’S STORY:
I honor my mother in life by telling of her piece, of her story. My mother Ida, celebrated her 96th birthday this past November 18 (ad 120).
My mother has a lot in common with the biblical Miriam. Miriam was not only a life savior but a savior of the future generations of the people of Israel. My mother, who was born in Romania and is a Holocaust survivor, chose life at every step along her journey to the land of Israel. When she was growing up, in spite of the protection of her name and looks (she was blond and blue eyed with an Austrian name of Glasser), she never hid her Jewish identity. She and her mother, after having miraculously escaped the labor camp in Transnistria, fled the front on foot ending up on the eastern Russia, Chinese border. Giving up was not an option. She and her mother literally kept each other alive when there was no physical means to survive.
My mother knew her future husband since childhood. He was her older brother’s best friend and they stole her cake cooling on the window sill for her naming ceremony. After the war he went to Israel and after fighting in the 1948 War of Independence called for her to come. She chose to follow him to Israel, marry and gave birth to a son and a daughter. Her attitude was; “we need to prove to those who wanted to wipe us out that they did not succeed.” She was thrilled to be living in a Jewish State. But when medical issues necessitated her to move out of the country, she refused. Only when my father made her realize that she will not be able to live a normal life in Israel without the treatment she needed, did she agree. The family moved to Canada in 1962.
My brother (who went to Israel to serve in the IDF) met his wife in Canada, and my mother’s four granddaughters and one grandson, were born in Canada. But with a strong belief that Israel is the only place in the world for Jews to live, the family returned to Israel in 2009. Sadly, my father died in 1996 in Toronto, and is now in the Ra’anana cemetery.
My mother’s grandchildren are the third generation since the Holocaust to serve in the IDF. A petite woman, she continues to be strong and continues to fight for the right to “live freely as a Jew in my own country, with our own government and our army to protect us”.
This past Simchat Torah (as in all the years since she made Aliyah 6 years ago), my mother was in the center of the women’s circle dancing, singing and crying with both arms wrapped around the Torah, her whole being embracing life.
Born in Israel, grew up in Montreal, Canada, studied in the States, worked in Toronto, Canada, and made Aliyah in 2009. Sara Jacobovici is a 30 year veteran in the health and mental health fields as a Creative Arts Psychotherapist. She lives and works in Ra’anana, Israel. Sara specializes in the use of the creative arts in assisting you to verbalize what is beyond words and to re-view the script you presently use in a new light. Sara reconnects individuals with their first language, creativity. http://www.arts-
Sara Jacobovici – We All Have a Story to Tell; One piece at a time