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The mezuzahs on my doorposts
I don't know who put them there, and until this month I hadn't given them much thought
I had a Scottish boyfriend once. He was also Jewish. The Scottish part always seemed more significant. Other men in my life have been Jewish. They weren’t observant and this never seemed important. But I have thought of them these last couple weeks, and I’ve suddenly become aware of the mezuzahs on the doorposts of the house I’ve owned since 1995.
They were on the doorframes when we moved in, and my then-husband, who was Jewish, had to tell me what they were.
We left them, naturally, but I understand now they ought to have been removed by whoever put them up unless they knew that the new owners would be Jewish. (The people before us were not.)
I’ve grown used to them: a metal one on the front door (photo above) and a carved wooden one on the back door. (Technically, we should have many more: not only on the other three doors to the outside but also on interior doors.) They have been, yes, just part of the woodwork.
But as I’ve read about the terrible events on 10/7 and the current situation in the Middle East, it’s almost as though I feel the presence of the mezuzahs, asking who I am and where I stand.
My attention for years has been on China, and I have never been to the Middle East. I’m no fan of the current government of Israel or of ultra-right religious conservatives of any stripe. But I cannot see about pro-Palestine marches and speeches as anything but antisemitism. There are far more people than I imagined, and liberal Westerners among them, who simply do not want Israel to exist. The more extreme don’t want Jews to exist at all.
There’s no way to soften this, or to excuse it.
Anyone who claims that it’s about fighting oppression might ask themselves what they’ve done about the oppression of Muslim Uyghurs in western China.
I write this not only because so many people I love and admire are Jewish, but because it’s heartbreaking to see how terrible we humans are recognizing our shared humanity and getting on with our shared business. And it’s shattering to think that so many innocents are suffering and dying because those in power - in government and in the shadow terrorist organizations - don’t care.
Would having women in charge make a difference? It might help, but as one of my favorite fictional detectives said, “give a woman a gun and a big dog and she can do anything a man can do to humiliate other people.”
It may be that someone should reverently remove these religious items from my doorways. After all, “A mezuzah is a sign and reminder of the Covenant, of our love and commitment and our willingness to create a Jewish household.”1 If you think I should contact one of the two local synagogues about this, please do tell me.
Otherwise, I’ll leave them in place as a reminder of the troubles that Jewish people have faced over the centuries, and of the myriad ways our lives are entwined. And they will remind to me to be grateful for the peace I too often take for granted.
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