International Journal of

Communal and Transgenerational Trauma

Journal of
  Common Bond Institute  and
  International Humanistic Psychology Association

The Invitation

What if we could go back in time?
Think of all the pain we could unwind
We could change the course of history
Like a sculptor reshaping destiny
Imagine the wars we’d unfight
And all of the wrongs we would right
We would design a different life
And all the broken-hearted would unite

To live, to love
To find out what we’re made of
To feel the soul of creation
To learn, to grow
To trust in what we know
This is the Invitation

What if we could go further yet
And get over our failings and regret?
There are so many ways we could be
Shaping a new reality

To live, to love
To find out what we’re made of
To feel the soul of creation
To learn, to grow
To trust in what we know
This is the Invitation

I can’t take anymore
Can’t take anymore
What are we dying for?
I’m just trying to survive
I’ve got to survive
But I want to thrive
And I don’t want to feel
No, I can’t feel

I’m numbing the pain inside
But I know I can heal
Show me the way to heal
Keep my spirit alive

To live, to love
To find out what we’re made of
To learn, to grow
To trust in what we know
To live, to feel
To love, to heal
This is the Invitation

________________________________________________________

The Invitation: The Back Story – Part 1

Aliza Hava

In the summer of 2015, I received a phone call from my aunt in NYC who told me my grandmother was in the hospital and would not make it through the night. My aunt was assisting her in calling all of her grandchildren to say goodbye.

I was stunned. I knew my grandmother had been unwell for quite some time. A Holocaust survivor, she was in her mid-90s and had been having health problems for years. The last two times I had visited her in Brooklyn, NY in the years preceding this phone call, I had unexpectedly accompanied her to the hospital for emergency health issues. Both times I was coming from a far distance, making an extra effort to visit her. And, both times, she was home alone when no other family member was available to help. On those two occasions, which were over a year apart, I was told my being there saved her life.

This would be our final conversation. I had no idea what to say. Despite my best efforts to have a relationship with her, my grandmother and I weren’t very close. She had always been very critical of me, my parents, and my siblings. Even as she recovered in the hospital after undergoing emergency heart surgery on our second fateful visit, she couldn’t help but criticize me. She was a very religious woman, and my mother had left the religion when she had married my father. We were considered the black sheep and a disgrace to the family. I never felt truly loved or accepted by her, even though I tried as an adult to have a caring relationship with her.

When my aunt held the phone up to her ear, she said hello in a faint, weak voice. I was silent at first and then slowly responded. “Hello, Babi (grandmother in Yiddish.).” She mumbled my name and I replied by saying the first thing that came to mind. “Babi, may you be blessed with a long and healthy life. I love you.” I was taken aback by my own words. May you live a long and healthy life? What a thing to say to a woman on her deathbed.

I could barely hear her response because I was crying by then. My aunt got back on the phone and said, “Are you ok? I have to call other people.” We said our goodbyes and I thanked her for the call. I stood on the deck outside my workplace, crying for some time. It was an unnerving experience.

A few days later, I received word that my grandmother had indeed lived through the night. In fact, everyone including the doctors were shocked. She actually lived another three months and, from what I was told, she was so frustrated to still be alive that she kept nudging the doctors, asking, “Nu? Why am I not dead yet? Please, just let me die.”

The truth is, she was suffering. She was in a tremendous amount of pain and our family didn’t make it any easier. Fighting amongst the family was the norm, and the anger and bitterness between her children was palpable. In our family everyone was fighting, all of the time, and my mother – a severely emotionally ill woman – was often at the center of it. It was a terrible way to be raised.

I was living in California at the time I received the phone call, so was not in New York to witness the unfolding of all of these events. But at one point during those three months, I received an interesting email from an Australian woman named Catherine. Catherine had heard my first album, RISE, while traveling in Israel/Palestine and had learned of my work as a peace activist there. She was very interested in my music and work and wanted to know if I would be interested in helping to compose the soundtrack for a feature film she was writing about racism in Israel. I was intrigued but wasn’t sure about her. She seemed too enthusiastic, too excitable. Too friendly. Truth be told, she sounded a bit naive and overeager. Very politely, I let her know I appreciated her interest, but was working on other projects at that time.

One night shortly thereafter, I was at home talking to my husband when all of a sudden, without thinking, I walked over to the bookshelf and pulled my grandmother’s memoir, the story of how she escaped Nazi Germany, off the bottom shelf where it had been tucked away. I looked at it in my hands, wondering why I had spontaneously gone and pulled it from the shelf. After a few moments, I said aloud, “I think something is about to happen to my grandmother.”

The next day, I was on the porch looking out at the forest. Suddenly, a memory of my grandmother flashed before my eyes. In it, we were dancing at a celebration and she was smiling at me, radiant and truly happy. It was one of the rare moments in my life when I felt like she truly loved me. In that moment, my heart opened and I forgave her for all the pain and suffering she had brought to me and my family, which was truly immeasurable. This whole experience was spontaneous and came naturally. In my heart, I felt her presence and forgave her.

She passed away later that night. It was just a few days after Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. I couldn’t believe it. Somehow I knew that,  between the blessing for a long life I had given her on her deathbed and the experience of spontaneous forgiveness, as well as having to take her to the hospital on those two rare occasions I had visited her when she was home alone and no one else in the family was around, our souls were inextricably connected.

Her body was flown to Jerusalem to be buried alongside her husband, my grandfather Zev, on the Mount of Olives. It felt strange to be disconnected from her burial process, but I wasn’t included in any of the planning. Like I said, we weren’t very close.

Shortly after her death, I received another email from Catherine. This time, she told me she was flying from Australia to the United States to do research and development for her film and she’d like to come to California to meet me in person. I was surprised and even impressed. I thought, if she’s willing to travel this far to meet me, she must be serious. I told her if she came to Santa Cruz, where I was living at the time, I’d be glad to meet her.

A few weeks later, she arrived. Catherine was a young, vivacious, attractive, and towering woman with a thick Australian accent, long red hair, and an enthusiastic, friendly personality. She turned out to be quite endearing.

We met for coffee and she told me she was planning on taking a journey to Israel where she would be renting a caravan and traveling with a respected Israeli activist who was traveling around the country collecting stories of the people, sharing music, and searching for ways to improve societal conditions amongst Arabs and Jews. I was inspired and wistfully said, “Sounds amazing, I wish I could go.”

She replied, “Well, why don’t you join me?”

I looked at her and said, “It’s not so simple, I have to work.”

She said, “What if I sponsored you as part of my film project, to do research for composing music?”

I looked at her squarely and said, “Are you serious?” She replied, “Absolutely.” I told her my grandmother had just been buried in Israel and that if I were there, I’d have to make time to visit her grave.

“Of course,” she said. “Give me two days and I’ll have an answer for you. I just have to talk to my partner.”

Two days later she sent me an email confirming we were on. She sent me funds to purchase a plane ticket and told me when she would be landing and where to meet her.

Two weeks later, I landed at Ben Gurion airport and found my way to the train station. We had arrived a day apart, so I needed to travel north to meet Catherine and her travel companion, another Australian woman named Krystal.

We met up and took a taxi to an RV rental place in Northern Israel. The plan was to get the RV and drive south to Eilat to meet up with a caravan led by Daphni Leef, a highly respected activist who catalyzed the 2011 tent city protests in Tel-Aviv, and Yael Deckelbaum, a well-known Israeli musician and activist. I was excited to meet them both and have the opportunity to work with them.

However, once we picked up RV, there were problems getting in touch with the group down South to pinpoint their exact location. They were on the move, and since we were coming from the North, we would likely miss them in Eilat. Shabbat was nearing and everything would be shutting down, so I made a suggestion.

“My father-in-law is a rabbi and lives in Tzfat. He said if there’s any chance for me to visit while I’m here, he would love to see me. Would you be open to going there? I’m sure he’d be happy to host us for Shabbat.”  Catherine was delighted. “I’ve always wanted to go to Tzfat, and we’re not far from there. Let’s do it!” Krystal agreed and we were on our way.

When we arrived and had settled in, my father-in-law, Yehuda, had us sit at the table and started to ask us about our visit. Catherine, being her usual enthusiastic self, warmed to him right away. She began to tell him all about our trip, her film, and how excited she was to be here in Israel. After a short while, he said, cryptically, “How would you like to find out the real reason you’re here?”

“What do you mean?” said Catherine.

“Well, it’s the strangest thing.” Yehuda replied. “A few years ago, my wife found this book, a sacred text, and I’d never seen it before. I wanted to study it, but it doesn’t read like other books. It tells you about what’s happening in your life at the moment you open it. It’s unbelievable. People have been coming to me from all over to read for them.”

“You mean, it’s like an oracle?” Catherine replied.

“It’s deeper than an oracle,” Yehuda responded. “It’s a text from the Zohar, the Kabbalah. It’s written in Aramaic. If you like, I can do a reading for you. I can do a group reading about your trip and then a personal one for each of you.”

Catherine exclaimed excitedly, “Oh yes! Please! I would love that!” I was also intrigued by Yehuda’s claim. His wife, Miriam, came into the room and overheard us talking. “He’s telling the truth. This book is the real deal.”

And so, it was settled. We would start with a group reading to find out what the “real” purpose of our trip was. A very intuitive man, Yehuda was convinced that there was a reason for our journey that we weren’t even aware of. A higher purpose. He told us to close our eyes and focus. He then opened the book to a random page and started to read.

…To be continued….(Part 2 will appear in the next issue)

Authors

  • Aliza Hava is an artist/songwriter who interlaces the elements; earth and sky, fire and water. Her transcendent voice recreates the mystical tone of Stevie Nicks, the raw soul of Janis Joplin, and the energizing strength of Florence Welch. With her award-winning infusion of folk, rock, pop, and R&B, Aliza heals the tiny forgotten bits of ourselves while rekindling our memories, setting our feet on the path back home and calling us to rise into our best versions of ourselves. Seeking solace from a difficult childhood, Hava turned to music at an early age. Self-taught on a twenty-dollar used guitar, she found inspiration in an old songbook she discovered in her parent’s basement, 'Great Songs of the 60s.' Fire-lit, Hava immersed herself in the history of the 60s and early 70s. The music, culture, and activism helped her discover her calling for healing and ignited a drive to write songs that could change the world. -- Email: alizahava@gmail.com / Web: https://www.alizahava.com/