Years ago, I arrived in Jerusalem in order to help one of the most renown French revivor of Judaism to write a sort of book on his path and actions. Léon Askenazi (Manitou) was one of the few revivors who, after the return from the concentration camps and quick passing away specialists in the tradition had the nerve to rebuild Judaism along the Ecole d'Orsay. He had been my Israelite scout chief. Things happened in some unexpected way. I was Christian and the people who wanted to publish such a book wanted to find somebody who could speak with the mentor. He was and remains a man of full seduction, captation, both Ashkenazi and still more from North Africa. They asked me to try to get into contact with him and wee if we could work together. Nobody knew about the fact I had met him several times and he did not really make a connection at first. He accepted to discuss and work with me and even had these special words: "Maybe there is a sign of Providence in that".
I thus, for my part - though the work stopped after one year - could ask for the hand of my wife who was then working in Galilee and accepted to marry me. I turned to Rav Askenazi and Manitou and told him that he unwillingly had done a great mitzvah. He was really content that it turned like that and a bit surprised. Cardinal J.M. Lustiger who married us a few days before he arrived in Paris as archbishop spoke of "une extravagance gracieuseté de Dieu"... (he later became a member of the French Académie). But the heart of the matter was about the existence of an Israeli and Hebrew Christian body inside of the Body of the One Church of Jerusalem. For years, I had been prepared weekly prayers in Hebrew and French i.a. that were lately published as the first Semitic Assyro-Chaldean and Oriental Euchologe.
On September 14, 1977, the then priest Lustiger blessed me to pray the Psalms in Hebrew in church all the time and late Fr. Kurt Hruby gave me the most significant books of the anglican and Russian Orthodox traditions in both Hebrew and Yiddish.
It took a long spiritual path and route to get to the frail position I have in Jerusalem but that does inscribe a priest of the Orthodox tradition, of the Rabbinic tradition inside a new revival of a tongue that is our/my real paternal language because it always connects to the Father Who is in Heaven.
This can only be possible if the way from "slavery to freedom" from "prison to Promised Land" and a sort of "passing across" is made possible. Here too many factors, cultural backgrounds, human and humane experiences are concerned. It is a sign of pure "gratuity, free gift, unworthy service. and though, in the middle of the turmoil, there are signs over years and decades that make sense or seem to be so meaningful.
On the fifth day of the past feat of Hanukkah 5771, i.e. exactly one month ago, I was "mstovev/מסתובב = walking along" as I often do in different quarters of Jerusalem. Mamilla, the new place was nice, lit. I put on the many "dreydlech/savivon" or top that were exhibited this years. I had overcome a thyroid cancer, without any help except that of my exceptional matushka. No money, no assistance, mainly a wonderful and so expressive silence from the hierarchies of all sorts and clergy people as also the lay people... And I returned back to Jerusalem, not even being certain of what would be next. Things went very well and I continue to serve (cf. events!).
On that day, I said hello to a group of women visitors as I was trying to take the first picture of a very nice "savivon/top". They called me with their hands to enter and we spoke. They are the members of the Association of teh Hebrew Poets in Israel. And we spoke a lot. it was very interesting.
The female director of their publishing-house started a long spiritual dialogue about her personal "secularization", being chilonit" and her difficulty to pray. In many different very local and Israeli ways, she found that I could help her to get to more and she started to come back to some daily Jewish prayers, mainly the "Hearken Israel before retiring to bed".
She also started to write poems about this experience that was unusual for her. And we shared about that. But it happens that she is of Polish Ashkenazi and North African descent, born in Israel and her path is rather similar to that of the elder Manitou!
She wrote poems about; strange poems but in which she does feels that we speak the same tongue, the same words, the same roots with such a thirst for the old-new language that is our native one in various manners.
Then, a sign, at least for me. Just incredible! On the first of the Month of Shvat, the month of agricultural planting of trees and New Year of the Trees (on the 20th), month of love (fidelity, faithfulness), we met in between of the different Christian celebrations I attended and she gave me her new poems ""HaKuntrest Sheli "הקונטרסט שלי " (My Booklet, a more sort of multi-directional guide or pamphlet, a bit naive) (contact Hotziyah "Pyutit.com") . Shoshanah Vegh brought the books an we had a meeting on tha tvery day of the new month, but also, in consonance of the Feast of the Nativity. That she met a real "Israeli" priest, of Hebrew and Yiddish education that she shres somehow and her son sketched some funny portraits...
This is quite a real gift because no one could ever think such a encounter would allow such "poetry"! I love Providence.
I shall walk in the face of the Lord on the earths of the lving/אתהלך לפני ה' בארצות החיים .
av aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)
Dec. 26th, 2010/Jan 8, 2011 - 3 deShvat 5771
av avraham aleksandr in a sketch drawn on i-pad by Eliran Vegh