Monday, June 27, 2016

Anastasia’s Back Story On -- (Part II of II)

The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard: 
How Communities Come Apart and How They Heal

Contact: Anastasia at cell: 240.409.5347, email:

Translated into my more modern Jewish American ways these traditions of the shtetl were set, deeply rooted in me, in a value system that carried its way into what I considered to be a life well lived, personally, and as a part of the greater whole of humanity; a manner of living that makes “thinking globally and acting locally” simply a broadened perspective and an imperative born of shtetl life.

In this paradigm forgiveness and reconciliation are viewed as fundamental to the well-lived life; trumping all other endeavors. But the matter transcends merely being at peace with oneself, ones family and friends or neighbor, the greater world around us and with the Divine. The very process of living by these values demands relentless self-analysis, determination and rigorous discipline. Contained within the endeavor lie the many gifts of alchemy; the transformation of our humanity; the evolutionary process of converting the lead within each of us into gold; individually and collectively.

The effort to live by these values, day-by-day, calling up introspection and an ongoing accountability, is an essential part of charity/social justice that begins at home, especially with oneself. The culmination, as I have learned, is the passing forward of these principles to the next generations by living them. In this way the very essence of tikkun olam, the Jewish notion of world repair, comes alive, as it once did in shtetl life on a much smaller scale.

One need only read the text of Jewish High Holiday rituals and prayers to see the principles of forgiveness, reconciliation and, above all, tsdokeh embodied throughout; not just in words uttered during these holy days, but as precepts to be lived during the course of the year as an essential way of being.  What is transformed on the personal level in the application of these ideologies affects, not only the individual, but also the family. What is transformed in the family ripples outward into the community and beyond. This is how it should naturally be, I believe.

The unexpected ways in which these traditional values of my Jewish heritage came to the fore for me and how I came to have them reinforced at a critical time in my life, by simply, and not simply at all, walking myself through a fire of personal challenge, I have come to call the “Jewish/Muslim Controversy” in my backyard that gave me the title for this book, The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard: How Communities Come Apart And How They Heal.

The experience changed my life, both personally and professionally. I hope it will inspire yours.

This book, beyond all else, is a gift to my children and my children’s children. I want them to  know of the yearnings of my heart in a detailed way that only memoir can offer -- and -- how these were formed through the interactional by-play of my personal relationships, those of my community and myself. In this special way I want them to also learn how practically significant, sacred and spiritually awakening my journey has been.

From my effort I want my children to know and live by values that shaped me that I most revere; many of them rooted in the culture of the shtetl. I trust these to be a pathway to the higher levels of human development, family and community well-being and world peace; again tikkun olam.

Not that I believe that the old ways of the shtetl should be embraced, wholesale, but that, as with other traditional cultures in the process of dying out or already having died out, there are things to learn from a heritage, such as this, that can help us live more whole-heartedly and beautifully in our contemporary lives than we could ever dream up on our own, even by plowing through all the knowledge presently archived on the internet.

To read about an ancient or traditional culture is not the same as knowing it in one’s heart and soul. This soulfulness must be preserved, if at all possible. And we, of the generations that can still convey remnants of the shtetl way of life through direct contact, albeit it  second hand, are carriers, perhaps the last, of a great cultural knowledge, wisdom and experience that must be honored, if humanity is to now grow beyond itself.

But how does a shtetl-influenced Wandering Jew such as I had become, by the time of the tale I’m about to tell, make the transition from anti-Semitic Jew, which I had also become, to being once more a “good Jew.”?  This is my tale of how I made the shift and how in effecting it I validated the profound words and thinking of my dear friend, Rabbi Edwin Friedman –

“There is an intrinsic relationship between our capacity to put families together (groups or other organizational systems) and our ability to put ourselves together.”

(Marcia) Anastasia Rosen-Jones
Passover Eve, April 22, 2016

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