Bosnians in Israel; Indians in New Jersey (5 cents)

How many people see two Ella Alterman movies in one week? First, it was “Dubak – the Palestinian Jew” and today it was “The Woman from Sarajevo”. Both biopics, “Dubak” is the story of a nonconformist Jew from Gush Tzion, who worked with Bedouins finding lost hikers in the desert hills, and taught hard to teach kids from the local communities, claiming a connection with the land, whether it turned out to be Israeli or Palestinian.

“Sarajevo” is the story of a Moslem woman from Sarajevo, the daughter of a Yad Vashem Righteous Gentile, whose family hid (Anne Frank style) a Jewish family in the heart of Sarajevo from the Nazis for years in a room whose entrance was blocked by a large, heavy safe. Aida kept in touch with the saved family, who had moved to Israel and she herself moved to Israel with her daughter and husband. Changing her name from Aida to Sara, she converted to Judaism, along with her formally Christian husband and their daughter, and she got a job as an archivist at Yad Vashem. It is a story of bravery and righteousness, of religious differences overcome by human similarities, and of wars – not only World War II, but the 1992 Bosnian War. The footage of that war, like the movie “A Woman of Berlin” which I saw yesterday, shows just how dumb and tragic war is.

In addition to seeing the film (at the Library of Congress this afternoon), I read a book called “Suburban Sahibs” by S. Mitra Kalita, published in 2003. Sometimes I think that everyone should read a book now and then that they pick off the shelf without knowing what it is, or whether they will like it. “Suburban Sahibs” is about the Indian community which has developed in Central Jersey, around the town of Iseliln, where we often have stopped as we head north (or south) on the Garden State Freeway, for an Indian lunch on Oak Tree Avenue.

Following the lives of three immigrant families, the book gives very interesting insights into the life of this community, the “model minority” community, where the children obey the law, study hard, and almost all become doctors and engineers. While not the best edited book, it is very readable, very straightforward and delivers important messages of interest to all Americans.

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