Having drinks at the Del Coronado Rick and I were struck by a large outburst by the party next to us.
Looking up we saw hugs, tears and joy. A member of the party turned to us to apologize for the disturbance. "Excuse us," he explained, "our family has not seen eaach other in 20 years. With the incursion in Iraq the whole family fled-- to Canada, Europe and the States. We are here for a wedding and there is so much joy in being united." He paused, then added, "We are Christian."
My heart broke just a little that he felt he needed to qualify lest we be fearful of the joyous, loving family sitting next to us.
Far from being fearful I wanted to join in. This family looks just like mine, they could be cousins and, of course, they are.
We watched as the family hugged, shared food, fed each other and tasted each other's drinks. So like my family. it's how we show our familial bonds. We feed each other and eat off each other's plates.
A woman my age wandered around offering cookies from a bag- clearly a treat she had made to remind everyone of the tastes of home. How funny as but just weeks before I had made my grandmother's recipe for Mandel Broit for my mother's 85th Birthday celebration. When I got a closer look I laughed when I realized that the cookies looked just like Rugeleh.
I was then startled when I heard one woman call out "Aba" (father in Hebrew) but they'd been speaking Arabic. So of course, I googled father in Arabic and "Baba" popped up.
So close. We are all so much alike.
A this family was fleeing their homeland, I was sitting with the Civil Rights Coalition of the Bay Area grappling with an anti-Semitic incident that had occurred, when someone asked, "I don't get it, why is their anti-Semitism?" I responded from the heart, "We don't get it either and have been asking the same question for centuries."
Flash forward 20 years and such minimal progress has been made in the Middle East. And yet here in the states is a family reunion of folks that looks just like mine.
Why can't we remember that when you go back far enough we come from the same family. Here's to looking forward -- away from hatred and mistrust and towards celebrating those who are much more interested in feeding each other and celebrating each other's joys.
Tracy Salkowitz is a Consultant,activist and the former CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.