by Nessa Norich
I was raised by Jewish women who were raised by Jewish women. That means whatever it means to you, it’s just a statement of truth.
That form of womanhood involved strong compassion, endless generosity and propensity to give (maybe sometimes to a fault), sharp humor and intelligence, and a love for community. My grandmother was an organizer of her local community. My sister speaks Hebrew arabic and French and directs money from the rich to the companies that invest in our future. My mother organized the New Year’s Eve town-wide intergenerational party to revolve around art. My aunt was a tenured professor. My cousin in this photo is a mother of 2 with a full time job RUNNING shit at the London Transport Commission. She’s probably the reason they finally put an elevator in your tube station.
I was a child who felt safe in the world because I got to be near all of these women. We had the privilege that afforded us the opportunity to spend time together. To spend leisurely time together. To see each other on the holy days. To protect and nourish one another. To be together.
This has been so important to my life. To live in a country where we could achieve and still have a connection to our ancestral identity. That’s what the dream of this country was. Freedom of belief. Freedom of speech. Freedom of choice. Freedom to an education not influenced by religious belief. That was the image painted for me as a child student. Of course that’s never what this country truly was, because it always rested on the laurels of slavery. Slavery built our foundation, and will always be part of our DNA. So we’ve never really been co-creating the American Dream, we’ve been actively, and often blindly, denying it to people.
Insult to injury.
This country was already unsafe for migrants (among so many others who are victimized by systemic oppression).
When we ramp up the deportation of immigrants, there are seeds of catastrophe that are planted.
When we ramp up the deportation of immigrants we sow a seed of rejection. When Jews in 1930s Europe were suddenly forbidden from riding bikes in the streets, the dominant powers sent a message to the entire population. These people are no longer safe here. These people no longer have the protection of the system. These people are our enemies. Have at them. They are illegal anyway.
When we separate families we deprive children the opportunity to be nourished by their loved ones. This is one of the cruelest punishments for a child imaginable.
Love. To be deprived of love by those who would love the child most. Unconditionally.
For today, I feel the most I can do is to write what I think and share it with whomever will read. Tomorrow will be different. I can do more.
With my entire heart, I will that this turns around. Make the work of this administration stop right where it is. It must come to a full stop. May whatever is driving it now, redirect towards a dream for everyone. To dream it. To manifest it. To share it.