Hello Mimi, and all --
Unfortunately I find that, for medical reasons, my husband and I cannot attend the Reunion despite all our planning and anticipation. But I hope that you will allow me to say how, even as an "outsider" of sorts, I see this issue.
Mimi's passionate expression of discomfort should be, in my opinion, attended to with all the consideration that her courage to tell you about it deserves. It is not easy to speak from the heart when clearly there are those who do not have the same vision. I suspect that Mimi is not the only person in the group who needs, yes needs, an assurance of shared experience and the assurance of privacy that this makes possible. One other person spoke up supporting her views, but again he and she are unlikely to be the only ones.
There are many reunion participants whose voices have not been heard on this subject, and who possibly wish to stay out of what should be a dialogue but at moments flares into pejorative. The very use of terms like "outsider" and the inclination to filter your responses by alluding to "exclusion" and invoking a sense of shame and social responsibility when this excursion was only intended to create a shared walk into your shared heritage, tells you that you will have to make an effort to understand one another and that this won't be as easy as you might imagine.
Despite some interpretation to the contrary, what is germane here is not the issue of "inclusion" vs. "exclusion". What is important if you really care about doing this as a unified group is honoring the very personal choice of who each person can comfortably accept to be the virtual extended family, the mishpoche (excuse my spelling) who will hold your hands and share your tears during what for some of you will be a week-long memorial for loved ones lost , for a way of life lost, for a sense of security forever lost. If this were indeed a funeral, or a memorial, very few of you would wish observers, students, journalists or film-makers to stand at the gravesite next to you, taking notes or doing interviews in any medium either then or later. I'll bet that most of us cringe when, after a tragedy is shown on the TV, reporters approach grieving family members to record their tears and their words. True, this is billed as a Reunion, not a memorial, but for some of you the emotional impact will be the same at many moments throughout the week.
As a therapist and as a member of a politically sensitive Dialogue Group for 5 years, I have experienced repeatedly what happens when observers with an objective agenda are present at a subjective dialogue. No matter how well intentioned they may be, their very presence inhibits the open expression of some, and encourages the grandstanding of others. It would be a great shame if some of you chose to be silent rather than to risk being quoted, misquoted, misunderstood when you otherwise would welcome and benefit from saying your most private, intimate reactions out loud to others who would best understand you. And it would be equally unfortunate if even one person were to succomb to the lure of having a moment on a public stage to make statements intended for an audience instead of for only those present. Both of these reactions are not only possible, but likely if observers/recorders are present. There's something about having pen and paper or film at the ready that will risk skewing what would otherwise be natural communication and expression.
You may not know each other now, and you may wonder why "Reunion" was chosen as the thematic name of this venture (and please do remember that it was indeed chosen by a vote, not by an authority, after much input and discussion a long time ago). But after a few days of eating together, walking the streets your families walked, visiting the cemetery together, praying together, opening your minds and hearts to stories of life, love and death, you will have bonded and become a virtual family if only for this period of time -- and possibly, for some, for years to come.
Do not underestimate the power of this experience to draw forth unexpected emotions. And do not wave away the fears of those who already anticipate the depth of such emotions in this unique, rare, circumstance, and who wish to ensure their privacy.
For those who wish some formal record to be made -- anecdotal, or visual, or whatever -- who better to do this than the participants yourselves. Only you can say what you mean, and be sure it will come out the way you intended. Only you can edit your words and your pictures so that they reflect the wider context of your own experience and not just what is happening at the moment.
In my view, this is not a photo-op. Protect its intimacy. Respect one another's concerns. And make this a most deep and meaningful Union.
thanks for "listening". --- Jessie Falikman Attiyeh, San Diego, CA
>From: Miriam Taylor <mirtaylo@...>
>Sent: Mar 3, 2006 3:15 PM
>To: Joe Poras <joe@...>
>Cc: Czernowitz Reunion <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: [czernowitz2006] Jane
>So it was you who suggested that she dig in our wounds so she can write a
>> It was I who suggested
>>> she contact the list and learn more about Jewish culture during the war
>>> years to help with her research project.
>And she cannot do this by writing to those who are willing to talk to her!
>She has to come and disturb us in our only chance to be together and bare
>our souls! What an interesting spectacle! One not to be missed, after all we
>are dying out.
> Let the whole world come and see!
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