Exploring Israel and the American South
"I grew up in the South but I couldn’t wait to get as far away from that Southern lifestyle as I could get. So, I moved to California, lived there twenty years, flew to Honolulu for ten years. Got as far away as I could get. Then Bob’s business brought us back to Georgia for the last seven years of my mother’s life. I knew she was getting on. I wanted my kids to know that side of the family because Bob’s family were all out in California.
"My husband is Jewish and I converted to Judaism and our children are raised in the faith. All our children spent their tenth grade summers in Israel with the National Federation of Temple Youth as part of their confirmation. They flew into Cyprus and took a rickety boat ride for three days to Israel to reenact the voyage of the famous SS Exodus—the ship carrying Holocaust survivors to Israel which rallied support for the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. My son, who is my youngest, wanted to join the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force. Israeli citizens are required to serve, but they also recruit Americans. I did not want him fighting a war, but instead offered him a study abroad in Israel for five months, where he spent time on a kibbutz teaching immigrants English. I’ve been to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel, so I am very aware of the Holocaust.
"As I researched my family history in writing my book, “Descendants,” I learned about the enslaved at the Harris House. My first reaction was shock, horror, and shame. Before that I thought the Civil War and slavery was just Georgia history. Now it’s my history. I feel embedded in that history."