“Mizrahi in Berlin” is an intimate performance by poet and author Mati Shemoelof. What happens to a writer when moving to a place where the language he writes in is no longer that of the majority but a minoritarian one, furtive and spoken by few? What are the ties that connect the literary work of an Israeli based in Berlin to that of other Jewish authors across the world’s different disaporas?
Shemoelof will tell us of the adventures and wonders he encountered in his home city, of his ties to Europe as a Mizrahi Jew whose mother was born in Bagdad. He will discuss the way in which Arabs in Berlin perceive him, compared with how Europeans do, and on what connects a Mizrahi Israeli with women from former East Germany. Shemoelof will raise the question of whether all Israelis living in Berlin are actually Mizrahis, and what life looks like when you reside in the West while your origin country is in the East. And a further question: Are there any borders in the age of the internet? Shemoelof is accompanied by musician Gilad Roth, on Saxophone.
The publication in Yedioth Ahronoth of a photo showing haredim barbecuing in Jerusalem‘s Sacher Park on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day was a wise move. Freedom of speech is an important value. It would be wrong to suppress a photograph that makes us uncomfortable, especially because it is dangerous to deny the problem and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Many haredim, like many secular people, do not always agree with the hegemonic narrative of Holocaust Remembrance Day. The desire to play down this difference does not sit well with freedom of speech. The media have the right and the duty to print troubling photos pointing to conflicts that occur on sensitive days like Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism.
We must not try to prettify reality. Most of the haredim who held barbecues on Sunday evening knew that it was the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. No one in Israel could miss this. Everyone — Arab or Jews, secular or religious, rich or poor, knows this is a remembrance day that unites the entire nation and should be honored.
But those people knowingly chose to demonstrate disrespect for those Holocaust survivors still among us. We don’t have to compare their actions to sacrilege, as did Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger. After all, this national holiday was created by the state, which is no one’s spiritual authority. People are free to go wherever they want on any day they want. Still, if the celebrants examined their own consciences, they might have decided to behave differently.
Voices will emerge saying that these are merely the bad apples of haredi and Orthodox society. But this is disrespectful toward those who oppose the Zionist narrative. The haredi story is not the same as the story of Zionism. It is a story that is opposed in its thought processes to the hegemonic story of the State of Israel. The symptom — Orthodox Jews who barbecue on Holocaust Day — belies a problem that goes deeper than we think. I am not saying this to incite. I am saying this because the reality is that cultures are not identical and we need to be aware of that.
We have to ask hard questions about education in the haredi world and the place of the Holocaust in it. We must not accept the glib theological answers of Orthodox religious education. The heads of the community and the community itself must do some serious soul-searching about how they relate to Holocaust Remembrance Day. If the opposite were to occur and the values of Orthodox Jews were to be treated with public disrespect, this would generate a furor.
Even if people within the haredi community make light of the barbecue, saying it was carried out by those on the margins of haredi society, we must not accept this explanation. We must be revolted by the deep rejection many haredim express towards the most basic values of Jewish society. I am not saying that everyone has to mourn in the same way, but it is important to honor public space. If the rules of that space were to change, then we would reassess our judgment.
There are different ways of rebelling against Israel and its laws. Some people make their act of rebellion political while others rebel more quietly. We must not make light of such disrespectful rebellions. The phenomenon is widespread and needs thorough treatment.
“Jerusalem your sidewalks are so soft/ they feel like mattresses
Jerusalem even the most shmeagoly of your pigeons/ is a like metaphor for like peace…”
I met Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi and Chana M. in Jerusalem / Al Quds and we talked all about the connection between creativity and political action. their both writers and scholars and the conversation was had is part of a Journey thier doin’ into the Middle East.
Azareen is from Iran and also my grandfather is from Iran. so i asked her if she visit in (his home town) Mashhad and she said she did. she went to Mashhad to have her vacation from Teheran. but now she can’t go back to Iran and also I can’t go and visit my Jewish roots.
Chana and me also found a very good connection and I’ve send her books and poetry that I ‘ve edited. Also their both were curious about “Culture Guerrila” – our creative political movement who connection the art with the social struggles and i told them everything i know (-: