As I was preparing for Callista’s 2009 Jewish Literature Challenge, I found this book sitting patiently on my TBR shelf. It has such a wonderful title, In the Name of Sorrow and Hope, and with all that has been going on in the Middle East in the last few weeks, I decided it was a book that might help me understand a little better what is happening there. It’s a poignant little book, written by a young woman about the loss of her beloved grandfather.
Noa Ben Artzi-Pelossof is the granddaughter of Yitzhak Rabin, who along with Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. Noa was very close to her grandparents, and especially to her grandfather.
From a very early age, because of difficult family circumstances resulting from a serious injury suffered by my father, Jonathan and I grew up at my grandparents’ house in Ramat Aviv. A very special relationship was forged. My grandparents showed us so much love, understanding and patience that the generations seems to blur. Grandpa was both my father and my grandfather, and he became the main pillar of my existence, the reference point for my life. He belonged to me. I was his only granddaughter, and he was my guide, my mentor, my model.
She was still a teenager when he was assassinated, and I think this book was part of her attempt to come to terms with her own terrible loss. It was also her attempt to understand the bigger picture of this loss. She was part of a political family, a witness to history, and I think she felt the need to explain, defend, preserve memories, and perhaps come to understand for herself the complexities of her grandfather’s beliefs. He was her Hero. She is not a professional author, but she wrote with heart and honesty, and with hope.
Above all, I hope my memories of Grandpa will touch young people. I want young Israelis, young Arabs, in our neighboring countries, and other young people to know that behind the politician there was a man of honesty and principle, a man who never stopped believing that his dream of Middle East peace could become a reality.
My own sorrow is that we have lost so many of the great and strong peacemakers over the years! But I also have hope! As we begin another new year, we must once again dedicate ourselves to finding ways to resolve our conflicts without violence or war. My own beliefs about how peace happens were formed as a young exchange student immersed in another culture. So on this first morning of 2009, I share my hope with you for a more peaceful year. The motto of my exchange program, the American Field Service (now AFS Intercultural Programs), became my own deeply-held belief:
O ye peoples of the earth
For then and only then
Shall ye have peace.