These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

I Encountered Myself

Posted on January 2, 2014 by Sarah Pollack

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From my blog:

SarpollStanding in Bethlehem, in a circle of Americans, Israelis, Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and Jews, we played a game. The rules of the game were simple. One, listen for the statement to be read in English and Arabic. Two, step into the circle if the statement applies to you.


I am a Person who….Is wearing jeans – obvious to see from the outside

…Is wearing eyeglasses

…Is Left-handed

…LOVES ice cream

…voted in the last election

I am a person who… has been a part of a youth movement – almost everyone stepped in. I’m stepping in because of NFTY, what is that woman wearing a hijab stepping in for?

..plays basketball

…loves my family – the similarities are many, we’re all just human

…has family in the US

…has family in Jordan

…has family in Israel

…has family in Palestine  – does someone think that my cousins in Ra’anana are in Palestine?

I am a Person who…has swum in the Mediterranean Sea – I had never before realized that being restricted to the West Bank meant never swimming in the Mediterranean

…has swum in the Dead Sea

…has harvested olives

…likes to travel

I am a Person who…has been to Jerusalem

…has been to Ramallah

…has been to Tel Aviv

…has travelled to Syria

….has been to New York

…is in Bethlehem for the first time

I am a Person who…has felt scared when hearing Arabic

… has felt scared when hearing Hebrew – Even I feel scared walking around strict, Haredi areas

…has someone in my family has been a refugee in the past 100 years – I don’t think there was a person in the room who didn’t step in

….has someone in my family has been a refugee in the past 50 years

….has someone in my family has been a refugee in the past 10 years  –  there were no longer people stepping in because of the Holocaust, only the occupation

…needs a permit to visit someone I love. – tears welled in my eyes as multitudes of Palestinians stepped forward

…needs a permit to visit a holy site.

I am a Person who….has a member of my family who has been killed in an act of terror, war

or genocide – we’re all the same, we know persecution, victimization – can I honestly say “Never Again?”

…. has a relative who has been in prison

… has a relative who has been a soldier or a fighter – is it fair to step in because my Grandfather was in the American Army. Am I trying to prove something? By not stepping in, am I trying to hide something?

… knows someone who has been injured as a result of violence in the Middle East

…. has lost a friend or family member as a result of violence in the Middle East


I am a Person who… sees the separation barrier at least once a week

… sees the separation barrier everyday – I can choose to look away, to avoid the wall, but so many people can’t

…. feels or have felt unsafe because of the Middle East conflict

….has worked for peace here

…. has close relatives with different politics than my own

….sometimes feel hopeless – the person standing next to me stepped in as the word “always” left her lips

….has a personal vision for peace in the Middle East – the word “personal” lingered in my ears, I wasn’t sure that I could step in

At this point, the group was given the opportunity to suggest their own identifying markers.

A short-statured man on the other side of the room, wearing a three piece suit and tie, stepped into the circle. He cleared his throat and said, “I am a person who is fed up.”