Tuesday, December 27, 2011

“Your father married a Schickse ?”


About 15 years ago, I got to know a young woman from a European German speaking country who was visiting Israel. I met her, more or less, by accident and she told me that her father was Jewish but her mother wasn’t. As everyone notices, the young woman was not Jewish, as her mother wasn’t. 

As a matter of fact, A. came to Israel in order to go to a Beit Din and convert. She had participated in an Orthodox conversion course in her country of origin and wanted to finish her process in Israel. I, on the other hand, was in my outreach mood and asked her if she wants to come to friends of mine in Mea Shearim. Chassidim she can communicate with, as their Yiddish was more German sounding than Yiddish. A. was happy getting such an opportunity. “Wow, a Shabbat meal in Mea Shearim. That’s something !” 

A. had a good job in her country of origin and was an academic. However, she was handicapped because she had a crippled hand. It is very hard to explain but I knew in advance that Mea Shearim would stare at her hand. Nevertheless, I took A. to the promised Shabbat meal and hoped that everything goes fine. Our host family was happy to see her but their eyes caught the crippled hand. No one said anything but people usually do stare. 

A. told our hostess about her upcoming Beit Din and that her father was Jewish but had married a Gentile woman. “Your father married a Schickse ?” The hostess was shocked. At the same moment she looked at the crippled hand and I immediately guessed what went on in the mind of the hostess. Apparently A. had the same guess and when we left she announced that she would never go there again. Not to Mea Shearim and not to any further ultra – Orthodox family. On our way back I was busy trying to explain and calm down emotions but, in the end, I didn’t succeed. A. passed the Beit Din, went back to her country of origin and I have never seen her since. 

What really bothered me personally was that A., due to the remark about her mother, accused all Israelis of being rude and not only Mea Shearim. “She would never make Aliyah but rather stay in her own country”. I always see it like “Some people fit into Israel and others don’t. No matter what”. A. neither fit nor made any attempt to change his status. She came, passed and went back to her country where she feels at home. She doesn’t see Israel as her place and I don’t think that this is only because of her being handicapped. Israel is just not her world but, hopefully, her approach may have changed in the course of time.


  1. I think it's unfortunate A. said that. I myself am considering Aliyah, but who knows if it is in my future or not?

    In A's case, I think because she has a fallback plan and an idea of an ideal home. She might not be able to commit to making Aliyah because she feels like she may already have a home where she is from.

    In my case, the only thing preventing me from doing Aliyah, among other things, would be close friends and the people I care about at shul, etc. I don't really have a home (yet).

  2. B"H

    Basically A. was happy where she came from. She had her job, her apartment, her life. Unfortunately, for many Jews Israel doesn't feel like home when they get here. The mentality is different, the language, the whole life.

    Maybe Jews abroad have a certain imagination about Israel. How it may be and how the people are. Suddenly being confronted with reality can be a shock or disappointment.

    Regarding friends: Israel is a place where you will easily find friends. On the other hand, leaving everything behind is not that easy and many new Olim forget that.

    By the way, I also don't have a home yet.:-))))
    I have been divided between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for years now. At the moment, I am tending much more to Tel Aviv but Jerusalem also remains home.