About 10 years ago, I discovered I was half Jewish. There’s a story there, but that’s not the point this time!
The reason I’m telling you is that a genetic genealogist who is helping me follow my blood lines, told me she was heavily impacted by discovering that there are large batches of people who die all on the same day in my blood line.
I grew up as someone who did not identify with being Jewish, as I didn’t even know that I was. Over the last decade, the various implications come to me step by step.
When I shared this latest revelation by the genealogist with a friend, she sent me an incredible interview with Dr. Edith Eger who’s become a heroine of mine. Dr. Eger lost her mother and many others to the concentration camps and after a lifetime of healing work, she’s come out with her second book at the age of 92. This one is entitled The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life.
The interview she did with Marie Forleo, which is the one my friend sent me, is worth a watch. Check it out here.
So much to be learned from Edith, including this quote from her book, but there are so many lessons really, I can hardly choose:
“I work from the understanding, shared with my beloved mentor, friend, and fellow Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl, that our worst experiences can be our best teachers, catalyzing unforeseen discoveries and opening us up to new possibilities and perspectives. Healing, fulfillment, and freedom come from our ability to choose our response to whatever life brings us, and to make meaning and derive purpose from all we experience – and in particular our suffering.”
And in conclusion she tells us:
“Freedom is a lifetime practice, one we get to make again and again each day.”
I have the freedom to choose how to look at my growing Jewish identity. I could look at it as meaningless (who cares that my DNA says I have Jewish ancestry). I could look at it as a type of pain (how is it that I never knew? I was abandoned). Or I could look at it as a gift. It is a gift that I am here at all. It is a gift my direct relatives survived the Holocaust. And, it certainly is a gift that I was shielded until now from the conscious knowing of all the pain my ancestors have suffered.