Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Breaks Over?

Okay, I know I said I was going to take a blog break. I tried, but there are a few things that I want to blog about. So I have made myself a deal. I am going to blog part of the time in English and part of the time in Hebrew. That way I accomplish part of the goal I had in taking in the break and that was to get my Hebrew more fluent. As you may have noticed there is already one post in Hebrew, and for those of you who can't read Hebrew, sorry, but to my Hebrew speaking peeps, מה נשמע.

So there are a few things that I will be blogging about the next few weeks. Most of them fun things that I have been wanting to blog about, but just never did.

What crossed my mind today was the need to make true on a desire I have had for a few years now. Part of my family came from Senegal a few generations ago. Not much is known about exactly where, but I have a few ideas. There was also a time when this same family could be found in Mali. This is of course before the borders were set in the way that they are now.
Ariel View of Timbuktu, Mali

A few years ago I attended a talk at NYU by Sheik Abdel Haidaira, Curator of the Mamma Haidara Memorial Library in Timbuktu Mali, concerning the hundreds of thousands of Arabic documents in Mali. These documents cover a dearth of West African history, poetry, geography, trade, conflict resolution, etc. predominately from an Islamic perspective.

Sheik Abdel Haidara is on the far right

There is however a number of documents that are from the Jewish community that once existed in Timbuktu. Most of these documents are trade documents, but there is one is one group in particular that Sheikh Abdel Haidaira pointed out to me contained one my family's names. He ooffered me the chance to go to Mali and he would show me around and help me do research. Sheikh Abdel seemed really excited to talk about the Jewish presence that used to exist in Mali. It may be because I think the Haidaira family had Jewish ancestry from the Kata (Kati) family that originated from Spain.

Part of me for so long has been wanting to take up Sheikh Abdel on his offer. Several obsticles have stood in my way.
  1. I no longer speak French. I stopped speaking it when I was about 6.
  2. My friend sent an email to Sheikh Abdel, but he never heard back. Sometimes emails there can be problematic.
  3. Travel to Mali from Israel can be very expensive. I would have to go through Spain, and then Morocco.
  4. I no longer have contact with the friend that spoke French and was interested in going.
A part of me still feels like I need to do this. It is smaller part of me that wants to be able to see one the places that part of the family stopped off at. Similar to when I went to Ethiopia in 2001 I feel like something is calling me there. In 2000 I had this feeling like I needed to go Ethiopia for some reason, much of which I still understand even today. With Ethiopia, it was simply an experience. It was not like a homecoming, since Israel always has been my home. Yet, with Mali I feel like I need to go for the experience and to connect with where my family went in their travels before they went to America. Maybe it is also the educational aspect of seeing again those documents that mentioned the family name. Something also a Jew has been calling me there since I have all of this information about the Jewish community that used to be in Timbuktu, but seeing them with my own eyes would change everything. I feel like if I was able to go I would come back to Israel a different kind of Jew.

The Document: Trade document of Eliyahu Al-Yahud

The debate I have now though is with another site of importance. That is with Cape Verde. Cape Verde is a group of islands near Senegal that has a history of mixing between Jews forced to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition and West Africans brought to the island as slaves by the Portuguese.

Every time these kind of calls have gone out I have ended up going to the places, and something always ends up changing within me. So I will have to save up my money and see what 2010 holds for me. I want to buy a house, maybe in Maale Adummim so I need to direct my funds that direction. Yet, I still feel like I need to keep my options open for this urge that I feel.

For my family the next post will be in Hebrew. חג סמח


Tr8erGirl said...

Couldnt stay away could ya? lol
In terms of a travel partner, perhaps a family member would want to go with you?

Ehav Ever said...

You know how the saying goes. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. I figure though doing some posts in Hebrew fulfills the reason I was going to take the break.

Most of the family I had that was bilingual has passed away. I may just have to put in some serious work and get my French back up to speed.

Tr8erGirl said...

Yes - the hebrew posts are good! I was proud of myself for understanding!

Does that mean French posts are coming as well?