Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘“A summer in Jerusalem”

“A summer in Jerusalem” by Chochana Miller Boukhobza (father of bread)


            This French novel is the first of Chochana Miller Boukhobza published in 1986; she was 26 years old.  She described Jerusalem in captivating details. A Jewish family from Tunisia decided to immigrate to France; the family lived the immigrant adventure of wants and hard life in a poor quarter of “Chemin Vert” in Paris.  The elder girl (Sarah) was 17 when she exhorted her family to relocate to Israel. Three years later, as the family settle down in Jerusalem then Sarah fled back to Paris, leaving her conservative parents in complete disarray.  The father is bitter and angry with his daughter living away from the family.

            Sarah decided to spend her month vacation in Jerusalem after 3 years of absence.  Saba (grand father in Hebrew) of Sarah was orphaned and studied to be rabbi. Rachael or Safta (grand mother), a beautiful girl, married thinking her man is going to act and behave as rabbi, with a social class and potential financial potentials.  Saba was not interested in social affairs and spent his days reading at the synagogue; he also enjoyed drinking alcoholic beverages: he was an alcoholic. Safta insisted on playing the role of the wife of a fictitious rabbi in the Tunisian Jewish community; she would pray to Adonai (the name of God among the Sephardic immigrants, the God of Canaan and Phoenicia; The State of Israel of the Ashkenazi is trying to banish Adonai).

            In Paris, the father of Sarah had to cloth his father differently; instead of the “red tarbush or kabouch” Saba wore forced by his son to wear a hat; the serwal was changed to a European dress.  Saba learned to take the bus to the nearest Synagogue every day for the whole day.  Saba was only given bus fare and something to eat but he always managed to come home drunk; the Jews entering the Synagogue had all kinds of excuses to offering reading rabbis small changes.  Saba said of Paris “a country of images and idols”.  Safta was completely disoriented in Paris but she practically raisded the kids while confined in the apartment. She would never beat the kids but encouraged her son to do the chastising

            Saba and Safta were relegated to live in desert Beersheba with Sarah’s aunt.  They were buried in a cemetery by the Olive Mountain close to Jerusalem.

            The two younger brothers of Sarah are serving in the Israeli army (Tsahal) invading Lebanon in 1982 and entering the Capital Beirut and facilitating the genocides in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila.

            The same as Safta ruined her life with Saba, the mother of Sarah, Camille, has ruined her life with her father.  The parents stopped having sexual contacts after the birth of the last son Joseph.  Camille cut her long hair and wore the scarf over her head to appease the anger of her husband.  When Camille is away of her husband she feels younger; she longes to visit her daughter in Paris and tour the museums and theaters but she never got around her wishes.  Camille is living awaiting her two sons to return home after the war.  No mother in Israel has a normal life.  It has been a succession of wars since the independence of the State of Israel; people have stopped planning for the future; they can die tomorrow.  The soldiers return bitter and discouraged because they never see the use of these wars that didn’t bring peace or security.

            Maud is a married neighbor of Sarah; she said “I don’t understand politics. I voted for Menahem Begin on instinct. Begin is the King of Israel”.  During Chabath (Saturday) that starts around 4 p.m. on Friday, people stay home; the streets are deserted, and shops close down. Food are cooked on Friday and kept warm for a whole day on electric warmers so that no one should cook after 4 p.m. 

            Lea is saying to Myriam “you will leave this State to the Arabs without reacting?” Miriam retorted “who are the masons, the cleaners, the gardeners, and the servers in restaurants? If the Palestinians decided to stop working for us and adopt passive resistance then Israel would vanish in no time.”  When in war, men are enlisted in the army and the crops are destroyed if Palestinians refuse to harvest.

            When Safta died the custom required all the close relatives of Safta to live in her son’s home for 7 days and nights.  They were the old generation of Tunisia; they were crippled; they just read and prayed; they waited to be nourished three times a day; they farted and urinated haphazardly but that what the rabbi recommended as the best remedy in order to forget mourning. Sarah fell in love with Henry, originally a Moroccan immigrant.  She didn’t stay home to care for the elderly visitors and exaggerated her make up and went out all night in shorts and mini-skirts bringing the wrath of her older generation.  She was considered crazy. Sarah had decided to stay in Jerusalem, quit her Jewish boyfriend waiting for her in Paris, and then marry Henri. Henry decided to go to Beirut on a reporting mission for three days; he did not return.


Note 1: The author Chochana Miller Boukhobza had hard time with the Israeli authority regarding acknowledging her Jewishness. She has American nationality and was converted by a “reformist” rabbi.  The conservative rabbi at the Israeli ministry of Interior suggested that Chochana be reconverted by an orthodox rabbi in order to avoid refusal of an Israeli citizenship according to the “law of return”.  She had to fight to circumvent these regulations and set uproar in Israel. The State of Israel refused to discriminate among types of Jews in order to encourage immigration to the State of Israel.


Note 2: (In spite of religions, the customs and traditions in the Arab World, especially in the Near East, are basically the same.  These customs are the inheritance of millennia of people of “The Land”.  The various religions changed headdresses and a little in the fashion for the sake of forcing discrimination for political reasons.  The clergies of the different religions needed a tad of fashion changes to retain political dominance among their corelegionnaires.  Outside, the headdresses might sort out the various sects but inside their homes the people are the same: their idioms, their habits, their food, and their interior style in furniture and comfort are the same. People before 1920 could not differentiate a Jew from a Christian or a Moslem.  Even after decades of living in Israel, the Arab Jewish immigrants have conserved their Arabic language and the customs they inherited from their original Arab States.  Many Arab diplomats, of States having signed “peace treaties” with Israel who could visit Jerusalem or Haifa or Yafa would declare that they felt in an Arab city.  All these wars have nothing to do with religion: they are the consequences of European Ashkenazi playing the colonialists and applying colonial rules and regulations of apartheid.)




June 2023

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