Thursday, 10 April 2014


My grandfather, with his sisters and parents

God minted every person with the stamp of Adam
And not one of them is the same as his fellow
For this reason every single person must say
The world was created for me
Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 37B

This is the world that was created for me- I was born a white Jewish girl in Cape Town.  I have my birth certificate, some photos and memories to prove it.

I have memories of drinking wine, singing and reciting from the Hagadah at Seders with my family twice a year at the festival of Passover, the celebration of the liberation from Egypt 3000 years ago. 

The story starts with "This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat."  

We end with a song called Chad Gadya.

When I look at the familiar Hagadah now, I am shocked to discover that all along I was learning Talmud and singing in Aramaic. 

In my head are messages, memories, and beliefs that have been passed down to me, and I didn’t even see it happening. 

Harris, grandfather of my grandfather, and grandson of Nochim

This is a photo of my grandfather’s father, Harris Rosenberg.  Records show, he immigrated to South Africa from Suwalki, Lithuania in 1873.

According to his tombstone, his Hebrew name is Tsvi Hirsch ben Kalonymus.
I know less and less the further back I go. 

 I can see my grandfather’s grandfather’s father’s birth certificate online – His name was Kalman Rosenberg.  His father’s name is registered as Nochim.

That’s as far back as I can prove but I can imagine twice a year at the Pesach Seder my grandfather’s grandfathers grandfather, Nochim Rosenberg said the following words:

"This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat."  
And the children drank wine and sang Chad Gadya.

But I can’t prove anything, except that that all my ancestors stayed alive long enough to procreate and passed on their values, memories and traditions to their children.

Like it or not, this is my story. 

This is what is bred to my bone.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully put, as ever. Chag Pesach Sameach x