My father’s mother was 11 years old when Israel became its own independent country. She used to walk barefoot every day to school, living under British occupation. Her family, originally Romanian, had helped to build the Kibbutz Kfar Warburg where my cousins still live. I see her every single summer. My father’s father was a Holocaust survivor. Hungarian born. He was sent to Auschwitz with his whole family: 5 brother, 6 sisters and both parents. Only he and one of his sister’s survived, moving to Israel. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and killed himself when I was two years old. My mother’s mother immigrated to Israel from Russia. Her family experienced pogroms, and fled to Israel to escape oppression. She was a highly esteemed professor at the Hebrew University. She died of cancer when I was five. My mother’s father was born in the Bronx. His parents immigrated to New York City from Poland, coming in through Ellis Island. He visited Israel after his father died and decided to stay. I see him multiple times a year. My parents were both born in Israel and met while serving in the army. They moved to the U.S with me (almost four years old) and my little sister (2 months old) in order to pursue their professional careers. The menorah pictured above was an object they brought with them from Israel. We’ve lit it together every single Hannukah since we moved here. We’re secular, but we always celebrate the holidays; eating food, singing songs and keeping traditions alive.
– Inbar Pe'er