L’dor V’dor — From Generation to Generation

“Bine ai venit acasa (Welcome home)” My great grandmother Raschella enthusiastically whispered in the ear of her one year old daughter Karolina as they unloaded the boat. As they walked up the steep-steps to the first floor of the foreboding building, they were pushed into single file lines. One by one they were inspected by doctors in long white coats. They checked baby Karolina first. They inspected her mouth, ears, eyes and checked her heartbeat, everything looked good. Examined next by the doctors was Raschella, who was twenty-one years old at the time and passed with flying colors. Harry, my great grandfather, went through the examination line next. As the doctor inspected his eyes, he signaled over another doctor to take a look. The two doctors started conversing in gibberish, or what we refer to as English. They called over a translator, and in the broken Romanian, Harry’s blood pressure began to rise.

It was a stifling-hot day in the summer of 1914. My great grandparents, Raschella and Harry with their one year old daughter Karolina, had successfully journeyed ten days on a jam-packed boat to be stuck in lines all day at the immigration center of Ellis Island. Harry and Raschella Berger were born in Romania in the 1890’s. They owned numerous successful department stores in Bucharest. Every week they attended synagogue and had a kosher house — they were fairly religious Jews. Anti-semitism, the hatred of Jews, was on the rise in Europe. They faced constant discrimination and feared for their safety. They didn’t know what their future held, but they knew it wouldn’t be bright in Romania. They packed their bags and purchased three one-way tickets to America. They left all of their family and friends behind, not sure if they would ever see them again. Thirty years later they were to discover the horrors of what happened to their parents, siblings and dear friends who stayed behind in Romania.

From what Harry understood in the broken-translated Romanian, he had trachoma, a constant eye infection that was common in immigrants. He was immediately shipped back to Romania. Harry left his young wife and newborn child in a foreign land. After returning back to Romania, Harry cleared his infection. A few months later he joyously reunited with his wife and daughter in America. They let go of their past identity and started their new lives as Americans.

In the book of Deuteronomy, chapter thirty, verse nine, G-d says, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse, So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” My portfolio encompasses the universal theme of creating a brighter future for generations to come. In Hebrew we say, “L’dor V’dor” from generation to generation. “L’dor V’dor” is a timeless theme because through the ages we see this reoccurring concept of choosing life for ourselves and for generations to come.

I started out the year unsure of what English 1101 would bring. I was pleasantly surprised with my first read of the short story “Two Men Arrive in a Village” by Zadie Smith. The piece begins with an ominous photo that has vividly remained in my mind since. The photo has vibrant fuschia flowers and a man in torn clothing. In one hand he’s holding a massive rifle pointed to the sky, the other is dragging a helpless woman through the fields of beautiful flowers. This photo was worth a thousand words, but Zadie Smith’s eloquent, dynamic words strike you with a thousand and one words. I remember sitting in class and my jaw dropping as I read the lifelike piece. I could smell the pungent tilefish in the air. When an attack occurred in the quaint west-African village, it was the powerful women who united their bodies in a circle around their children. It was the women who were the glue holding together their sanity after the attack. This is an ageless story that highlights the important role that women hold in their communities around the world.

For my second piece, I examined the charismatic Davids of Israel — King David and David Ben-Gurion. Growing up in a Jewish household, both of these Davids were commonly mentioned as the leaders of the Nation of Israel. Both of these men shaped their communities and the future of the Jewish people. King David, the second king of Israel, lived over 3,000 years. He is frequently recognized for his courageous battle against Goliath and his architecturally advanced City of David. David Ben-Gurion was the first prime minister of the State of Israel. He was the lead defender of the country in the 1948 War of Independence when the minuscule country was brutally attacked on all five sides. Although they lived 3,000 years a part, King David and David Ben-Gurion had the same vision — a place where Jews could live and practice their religion freely. I thank them for my homeland. The beautifully-democratic State of Israel we see today.

My final piece journeys around the globe to trace the struggles and heartbreaks of those living in exile or who are oppressed in their homelands. I highlight eight groups of people discriminated against due to their religion, colonization or political factors. I wasn’t familiar with many of these groups, so I thoroughly enjoyed the research. The internet is filled with endless fascination, each time I opened a new webpage I would get lost in the information of these different religious and ethnical groups. A Global Journey of Exile travels across the world to unite thousands of people who plea in unison, “Next year in my homeland.”

Just as a hundred years ago my great grandparents took the risk and traveled to America, families around the world take this risk everyday just for the possibility of a better life for themselves and for their children. The women of the small west-African village in “Two Men Arrive in a Village” physically used their bodies to protect their children. The Davids of Israel united a nation to ensure a sustainable future for the eternity of the Jewish people. A Global Journey of Exiles shows the heartbreak of those living in exile from their homeland. A Syrian refugee highlighted in this journey exclaims, “In Syria, there’s a hundred-per-cent chance that you’re going to die. If the chance of making it to Europe is even one per cent, then that means there is a one-per-cent chance of your leading an actual life.” Every day people take that one-percent chance for a better life for themselves and future generations to come. Throughout my year of English 1101, the reoccurring theme of “L’dor V’dor” from generation to generation has rung true.

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