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We Arabic Jews

Read Sami Michael’s novel “Victoria” and tell me we were not Arab Jews. Read Albert Memmi, Naim Kattan, Sasson Somekh. Respect. It’s a no brainer. How could we live in what became Arab lands under Arab rule, for a thousand plus years without becoming Arabic? We were not Jewish Arabs but Arab Jews, as Albert Memmi unpacks in What is an Arab Jew? (“Jews And Arabs”). My parents were Arab Jews, from deeply rooted Iraqi and Egyptian Jewish communities predating the Muslim Conquest in the 7th century. My mom and dad, Khatoon Sharbani/Katie Sherbanee originally from Sharharaban on the Iraq/ Iran border, and Moussa/Maurice Wahba from Mansoura via Mitghram and further back, farmers, fellahin in Moust

Dancing with Moses, Buddhas and Kewpie Dolls

We remember the time our people melted their gold and danced around the calf. Moses was gone too long, the Jews fleeing Egypt got restless, afraid, confused. Since Abraham, the Torah warns us against idol worship. And there are many forms and ways of relying on false gods be it addictions, Wall Street, power. John Lennon called it when he experienced being worshipped, uttering how the Beatles were bigger than God. Religious leaders freaked, heresy. I had a dose of idols with Hanuman lovers in the Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) z”l, circle I was grateful to be a part of for a while. I loved Ram Dass, his teachings continue to speak to me. I just edit out what doesn’t. Like his affection for Hanuma

As a Jew...

When I have to leave my synagogue because its progressive agenda includes distancing from Israel, I fear feeling something I thought I was done with once I got to the United States. Unlike my parents I never knew what it felt to belong to a country, to have a native language, a national anthem, a passport. Until her Iraq and his Egypt took their passports away. Jew became our nationality. I never had any other. Born in India but not Indian, Japan was home for twenty years until immigration to the USA. No, it was not possible to be naturalized by Japan. Dad tried to soften our statelessness by claiming we belonged to a respectable tribe of “Wandering Jews,” but without a passport we couldn’t

© Copyright 2015 Rachel Wahba Writer, Speaker, Psychotherapist