HINENI --- Here I Am by Celine Leduc edited by Norman Simon
“Here I am,” Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis would say she was a spiritual and mystical person calling people back to Judaism, touching soul with her unconditional love. She has passed away, has left this world, but she is still alive in my heart, in my soul.
Condolences to her family, friends and followers. I would like to share with you how I met Rebbetzin Jungreis, the meaning of her blessing, and the impact she had on my life. I am not Jewish; however, my ancestors were Jewish before they converted Christianity (Catholicism) over 500 years ago (1492). Due to the downfall of Andalusia (Spain), they chose life as Christians moved to Rouen, France, and then to Canada.
THE TWO HOLOCAUSTS
She saw both the physical Holocaust of Jews that occurred in Germany, and the spiritual holocaust when she landed in New York as she saw that people had lost their Jewish spirituality. She had seen the physical horrors and death in a Concentration Camp. She would say: “Hineni.” Here I am, to awaken the Jewish soul, the lost spirituality of Judaism. She did bless and touch so many hearts to reawaken the spirit that would bring you HOME.
I heard her speak in Montreal a few years ago as she was promoting her latest book. In her speech, she spoke of her experience in a Concentration Camp. A heckler had started saying, “How can you believe in God after such horror?” I was sitting in the audience and my spirit was moved, so I told the man off and told him to listen with his heart and stay quiet before Rebbetzin Jungreis had a chance to answer. Hence started a wonderful friendship. After the conference, I bought her book which she signed and gave me a blessing and thanked me. I was touched.
The next day, we went out visiting Montreal and we talked about life. I told her I felt ashamed and felt so bad as I had made so many mistakes in my life. She asked me, “Do you know the story of my ancestor, David? He made so many mistakes. You can read about them in the Torah.” I knew the story of David, knew intellectually about how he was forgiven; but she gave me a new way of seeing things from the spiritual lens. He made mistakes, but also mended his ways. He asked for forgiveness and was forgiven because his heart was pure and his mistakes were part of his learning path. The lesson of David is all about life’s challenges, how we handle them, what lessons we learn, and how we can correct some others. We can also be part of the lesson to think and grow spiritually.
She knew I was not Jewish as I had told her. After I had been with her for more than a week spiritually, I had a spiritual awakening. She would sit with me/ She was a palpable vision her spirit was there at breakfast and we would chat, spirit-to-spirit. She loved stories about cats and wrote about one the cat that was at the King David Hotel in Tel Aviv and got adopted by a woman. She told the cat that she would be back as she had to go to Jerusalem or Haifa for the day. She put a ribbon or collar around the neck of the kitten, gave him enough food, and left. Once she arrived at her destination she was amazed and surprised to see her kitten waiting for her. How did the cat get there before she had? It was the same kitten with the same collar and markings he answered to is name. I know this story is real as she did sit and have breakfast with me spiritually. Yes I could feel her love and kindness and oneness with the universe and her blessing.
She went back to New York and gave me her contact information. I would call her on a regular basis and listen to her radio broadcasts. One day I called and spoke with her about the fact my family on both sides had once been Jewish, in Andalusia which became Spain. Jews and Muslims were friends then and worked together for the betterment of society. She asked me, “How did you find out you had Jewish ancestry?” I told her it was because of prejudice. My aunts were always telling me to stop being so Jewish when I questioned too much. It was because of the family secret: an egg pie that had originated in Andalusia and was a family secret. It was about my family name, Leduc which was a derogatory name given to Jewish converts. It meant that we thought we were royalty, something my aunts would remind me of, until I read “Les Juifs” by Roger Peyrefitte, and discovered my family name was there. My aunt, the historian of the family and a nun, refused to believe me, in 1967. In the late 1990s just a few years before her death and after she had gone to a family gathering of all the Leduc’s in Rouen, she could not find any tombstone prior to the 1500 bearing the name Leduc. I mention to my aunt I had proof our family name was Duce or e-Duce in Toledo, and she said, “We were like Jesus, a Jew.” After I met the Rebbetzin, someone told me we had come from Toledo which confirmed my lineage and what Peyrefitte had theorized. My mother’s family name was Foisy, also Freedman in English. The family was also from Andalusia and had been named after a river, another clue to their Jewish origins. She told me that in order for me to be recognized as a Jew, I would have to convert and she suggested I do a DNA test to show that many Jews were converts or that their identity was hidden and their origins were denied as being Jewish in the family tree.
AVOIDING A THIRD HOLOCAUST
Here I am and thanks to the Rebbetzin, I will write about the lesson I learned from our numerous talks. She never tired of my calling, always smiling, listening, and giving me a blessing. The winds of another Holocaust is on the horizon. This time it involves racism and xenophobia in Europe with the hatred being focused on Muslims; yet Jews will be blamed for the religious war that is in the imagination of the elitists and intellectuals of Europe. These intellectuals and haters are using religion as a weapon. Up until colonization, Jews and Muslims lived side by side as descendants of Abraham according to the Torah, or Hebrew Bible. Isaac and Ishmael did make up, stopped the sibling rivalry, made peace, and lived side by side as the fathers of two great Nation. Isaac and Ishmael are the antithesis of Cain who killed Abel. In Europe, due to perception and faulty teachings, they see it as a war of religion: they want Jews to forget that they were once cousins with Muslims. Today, some Jews and Muslims are very political, because of European politics. Politics and nationalism have to do with ideologies and not spirituality. The political ideas of the “Final Solution” are still alive, and have been exported by Europeans to the Levant. Israel is, thank God, the refuge of Jews. Yet those dark clouds in European politics are blinding, as they use religion as a weapon. My ancestors lived in Andalusia. We lived freely under the Moors and prospered. Our lives were threatened by the forces of Isabella and Ferdinand. My ancestors did not want to die, so they converted by the sword and migrated to Rouen, France hence to Canada. To avoid another Holocaust that will affect the lives of Muslims, Jews, Roma people, homosexuals and those with a physical handicap, we need to unite and stop the advancing troops of hate. Here, I am calling on all those spirits from Andalusia and all those who died in the Holocaust to come and stop the madness. Let us awaken our spirit by uniting and telling hate mongers to stop, as they not only want to destroy Jews, but Israel and the whole of the Levant and North Africa because of their greed and lust for power. They want to kill Jews, Muslims, Christians, Yezidi, all living beings and wipe out history.
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis spoke of two holocausts: one physical and one spiritual. Jews were scapegoated in Europe many times. Now they are again becoming the target and being used to cause a rift with Muslims. Yes, there is a war that is political and not religious going on. That war is being fueled by hate mongers who lust over land and oil. They favor one side as the victim and demonize the other. However, they hate both, believing one killed Jesus and the other is the devil incarnate. This is the elitist mindset. I remember Andalusia and my love of life of being Jewish and my being friends with Muslims, and I remember the Holocaust.
Rebbetzin Jungreis spoke of unconditional love and lived it. She was open to everyone. She awoke the spirit in each of us regardless of our religious affiliations. Here I am, Rebbetzin Jungreis. I am ready to do what needs to be done to stop the dark clouds of war to stop the hate… No more holocausts.