Although this object is a special part of my life story, it is also intertwined with the immigrant story of another’s journey. I was about 9 years old when I attended my first summer at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, and this was when I had first met an Israeli immigrant. I had barely even heard any stories of this magical land where my ancestors once walked and where my distant cousins live. I was enchanted by the toughness and the ruggedness of my counselor who was an Israeli officer, and loved hearing his fascinating descriptions of the country’s landscapes, people, food, and visions. It wasn’t until I was older, having far more exposure to the reality of conflict that I understood the implications of my counselor’s duties to Israel, and why he felt he eventually had to go back to serve. That summer when I celebrated my birthday, Adir, my counselor, left a surprise for me under my pillow; a small book of Tehilim which he told me was from Israel. The Hebrew reminds me of the toughness of the Israelis I had met and the beauty in their stories of their country. With this book, I felt I had a part of Israel and a part of Adir with me. It reminds me of my own family’s journey from Argentina and how they brought several Hebrew artifacts with them when my grandparents came to America. This book of Tehilim represents our immigrant stories of past and present; and despite our different origins, the common Hebrew thread that binds me and Adir reminds me of our similarities.
– Justin Fiszer