Mokum, my Amsterdam. My family has written your name in tears of joy and strikes of blood…
Looking for refuge, haunted by holy men who thought God was on their side-walk on, but never look back. Adio Querida, ladino singing lady slowly sailing away from Portugal, through Spain. Don’t look back in anger I heard them say… Whilst some were burning, others were on their way.
My city is a caring mother for those who come bearing gifts of trade, network and knowledge. Looking for refuge we found arms to shelter us, embracing our uniqueness. It took some time to give us civil rights, but once we did… my oh my… Spinoza, De Miranda, Tuschinski and many more contributed to their city and its core.
Spinoza said “no” to the establishment and now we remember his Ethics and great ideas about life, humanity and nature. What were the names of those who banned them? Nobody knows… We need Spinoza’s, we still do. Honored by a wonderful statue in front of city hall. What were the names of those who banned them? Nobody knows… So if you find a rebel, ask yourself if he or she isn’t really a prophet. Spinoza, I married in your Esnoga.
My relatives from eastern areas still smelling of kugel, borsjt and chickensoup left their homes fleeing pogroms and persecution…
Had to leave their pots on the stove of the 1940’s… when my city became a mother who abandoned her children, sending them away crying for her caress and loving arms.
But she sent them to a theater where the only show playing was the world’s largest tragedy with a role to play for everyone in the audience…. Their final piece. Then the curtain fell. And if after years of inhumanity her children returned from the east, mummy wasn’t home and strange people slept in their beds.
Bad things happen when good people remain silent. The evil speech of enemies did not break their spirit. The silence of their neighbours and friends did.
In sad places I find peace, strength and resilience. Standing on the Never Again cracked mirror monument I watch the broken sky… The sun shines merciless and birds fly through the cracks of the mirror of our broken soul. 80% of my people never returned home to their mother. I wonder where my soul is broken. What I should fix in order to heal the world? So I stand up for my muslim, black, gay, migrant, refugee sister or brother from another mother. To at least heal the cracks in my heart and stitch the scars on my soul.
My children see the joy in their Judaism for that is what we teach them at home. Food, love, shelter, community, songs and joy. There are no trains, no tears, no teared up families and mummy, who was Anne Frank again? Happy and blessed are they.
Mokum, my Amsterdam. Standing on the shoulders of my ancestors whose names you’ve written with tears of joy and strikes of blood. I salute you. I can now dance feely through your streets together with 180 diverse Amsterdammers connecting our differences while striving for a New We. Both Mo & Moos are invited. And Amsterdam thank you for Getting to Know my Neighbours. In your synagogues, mosques and churches I find God. And she is telling me all is Good. She is a mother with limitless place in her arms for all of her children, also those who don’t believe in her. Sometimes I wonder if she still believes in us.
But my Mokum, my dear Amsterdam let me, your rebel-child tell you this: “My kabbalah teacher told me that in times of darkness the potential for revealing light is endless.” So I will continue fixing the broken sky of the Auschwitz monument and wake up every day, knowing that MY purpose is in YOUR people.
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