Red Thread

Ever since I was a toddler, my parents always made sure I had a piece of red thread tied around my ankle or wrist. My mother and father fled Ukraine and Moldova respectively, to escape religious persecution. They vowed they would freely celebrate their Jewish heritage, for the first time, when they came to Brooklyn. The red thread is a talisman in Kabbalah that is said to protect someone from the “evil eye”. When I was younger, I always hated having the string tied around my wrist. Whenever I felt stressed or angry, I would displace my frustrations toward the string. I remember trying to rip it apart, piece by piece. It was weird having this tight piece of string clinging relentlessly to my skin and leaving indentations. I felt that it was holding me back. As I grew and became more cynical, I started to refuse wearing the thread. I think I went two years having a free wrist. My life didn’t change all that much. I wasn’t any more susceptible to the “evil eye” than when I wore the thread. A few weeks ago I came home to visit my parents. I’m not sure why, but I asked my mom to tie the string around me. I just I kind of missed it. When I fumble around with it, I think of my parents and my heritage. I think about all the complicated superstitions and rituals I had to perform daily to avoid all sorts of imagined perils, and I can’t help but chuckle to myself. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wearing red strings again.

Year: 1996

– Mark Solter

Relationship:  unknown unknown