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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A piece of paper with writing on it brought the complexities of my grandfather’s personality, rushing back to me, from beyond the grave. I don’t believe he placed much importance on what he wrote. How could he know that his words, so clearly would make him vivid to me, once more?
I can see him standing, quietly leaning on the window ledge. Looking at his expression, few would be able to conceive the depths of his thoughts. How many.
I always thought of my grandfather, my Saba, as having the soul of a scientist.
Read his words and you will see the soul of a poet.
From a balcony on the northern edge of Jerusalem, Israel’s Memorial Day begins like many others, the sun splashing on ice-blue sky with improbable color as it thrusts through the haze over the Judean Hills. The traffic in the street below is desultory; today it moves between flag-draped buildings to stop, at a distant signal, for the moment when Israel recalls her dead with quiet mourning and her life with quiet joy.
In the playground of the school across the street the soccer balls and other games are put away for now. A file of children, dressed in their best, unfurl small flags and are marshalled for a ceremony of their own. A loudspeaker reviews the purpose of the day, and the children pace, to music, around the familiar field in unfamiliar dignity.
Fifteen children with fifteen flags:
The moving circle of flags is answer to Hitler, to Mussolini, to Horthy and Petain and Mosley; to all of those who said to their momentary masters, here are the Jews, take them; to the Mufti, Haj Amin el Husseini, to John Glubb’s Arab Legion, and to all the dark legion of others who denied, denied, denied.
Fifteen children with fifteen flags in a very un-military march, circling in the Jerusalem sun: what kind of answer can they be to a world convulsed before they were born? They are an answer, some of them by being born at all, all of them by making their circle where it is, in a world which – too often – still denies them. They are an answer because they are an affirmation.
The children disperse, and now their circle cannot be seen. But it is still there.
He knew the secret. “It is still there.”
My grandfather was extraordinary. Here was a man who chose the Jewish people - not because he was born into the Nation of Israel, nor out of religious conviction. He did it because he believed in the “American way”. He believed in truth and justice. He believed that the strong should protect the weaker and that freedom means everything.
The conviction that “Jewish blood was worth more than Arab oil” is what brought him to my grandmother and changed his life forever.
He did it for love.
Now it is his “circle” that can no longer been seen. But it is still there.

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