Posts Tagged 'Zionism'

Awake,Arise, Abram Orlow: A Prescient Poem from 1918

I am named for my father’s father Abram Orlow. To a great degree he is a mystery to me. This is what I do know. He was born May 3, 1900 and died April 30, 1950. He was born in Poltava, a town that I have visited during my stay in the FSU. His family emigrated from northern Ukraine to Philadelphia when he was young. His first language was Yiddish, but he seemed to do fine in English. He went to University of Pennsylvania where he later was a political science professor. The story goes that he was the first Jewish professor at Wharton.

 

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Abram and my grandmother Lena had two sons. My father James Joseph and his younger brother David. Abram, Lena, and my father were all immigration lawyers. In fact in 1948 Abram was the Second President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Interestingly Lena went on to be the president of AILA in 1954 and twenty years later  my father was president of that organization the year I, Avram Orlow, was born. My father was younger than Yadid when his father died, so there is just not that many people I have ever met who knew much about him.

Years ago I found a poem that he wrote which was published  January 11, 2018 in The Jewish World. Seeing that is has been 100 years it seemed fitting to share the work of  person for whom I am named. Like my grandfather, Abram Orlow, I am a Zionist. To me the modern State of Israel is central to my Jewish and human identity. As hard as it is to imagine what the world looked like a 100 years ago, it is harder for me to imagine a world before Israel existed. Reading this poem I am filled with wonder. What do we make of the romantic call for a reprisal of the Hasmomean military victory from the pen of an 18-year-old? How did he balance his fierce nationalism with a universal appeal to flock to this yet to be realized Zionist “standard”. He is simultaneously asking Palestine to be born so we can be like ever other nations and also be exceptional and a model to the nations. I have no idea if my grandfather ever stepped foot in the land of Israel. What was Palestine to an immigrant from the Ukraine who would go on to spend his career as an immigration lawyer in “Goluth“?

Reading this poem I find myself looking back to look forward to look back again. Abram’s poem for the ” Jewish Homeland” is prescient. We are still striving to fully realize the Zionist ideal.  We are still struggling with Diaspora identity in “Goluth”.  We are still coming to terms with the challenge of wielding the power of the Maccabees. We are still trying to fuse our commitments to particularism with our universalism. And all the while I have not done much to demystify the person for whom I am namesake, but I hope you have found it interesting nonetheless.

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A Note on Israel for Our Children

I am blessed with a full life. I spend all of my time parenting, partnering,working, and learning. Recently I have found that with every spare moment I am trying to follow the news of what is going on in Israel. And if I get a brief moment to reflect I just cry thinking about what is going on in Israel. It is the 21st Century, why must we still fight to exist?

Earlier tonight Adina and I took our children out to join us at a community wide event in support of Israel. We could have left the children with Maria, our Au Pair, and just gone by ourselves. We realized that despite it being past their bedtime it was important for our children to join us. We want them to value Israel in their lives as we do in our lives. It was great to see the room packed with people in support of Israel. But I realize that at the ages of eight, six and three this might be a bit too much to ask for at this time. I remind myself that this is the very reason that I started writing this entire blog in the first place over threes ago. I hope that years from now you ( Yadid , Yishama, and Emunah) look back and read this blog and are able to connect all of the dots of our parenting choices over the years. I can admit that I often daydream about the your future lives. What do I see emerging in each of you, our children, and might that be a clue of what is to come. I am curious which if and of you will choose to live in Israel. There is a big part of me that would love to follow you.

As we read in Vayetzeh, this week’s Torah portion, Yaakov dreamed a dream about a ladder. There we read:

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! ( Genesis 28:12)

As Yaakov was leaving Israel to go into Diaspora he had this vision. We need to be idealistic and have our head above the limiting details of life, but we always need to have our feet firmly rooted in the ground. As important as any of the ideas we might talk with you about are the actions that we model. While I hope to share with you my ideas and ideals, I realize that you will have your own. So I hope when you read this years from now you have seen our commitment to Israel in our words as well as our actions. On the way to the event tonight Yadid said, ” I was born in New York, I live in White Plains, but Israel is home.” Obviously that is a well rehearsed line in our home, but it is also important that it is not just something we say. It is important that we make sure that our ideals are founded on our actions. For a second there was a hint that Yadid was starting to get the point. Who knows? Maybe he will be reading this blog post from Israel?

Our thoughts, prayers, and actions are for the people of Israel in the land of Israel. May we see a lasting peace as soon as possible for all of our children.


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