8th April, 2021
I take photos of the light projected to me by humans, still life.
I find the fingerprints of love left to me by my parents.
A hidden chain links me to that wonderful energy I inherited from my parents, precious testimony.
All these empowering words have shaped me over many years.
My mother told us so much, she missed her homeland, Germany.
She left behind a home, a childhood, a culture, her roots.
My mother was born a twin. I experienced her as an only child.
She had two homelands.
Summer, the second half of the 1980s,
my last trip to Europe with my mother.
Seeing the Dominican convent that turned into a museum in Colmar.
An innocent family album remains from that trip.
After Yair died, we took out one of the photographs, in which Yair is looking at Jesus on the cross.
A huge painting by Grunwald, oil on wood.
He stood there, unable to leave this sight, as if he touched eternity there.
I look at him and try to understand what moved before him as he stood there.
Did Yair know his ending? What did his soul tell him?
I relive moments that did not happen in the past.
We are more than a memory.
Times allows stories to be unveiled, to be built.
Where was my mother when Yair stopped and stared?
She told us nothing about the meaning of this painting in her life.
Winter 2020. Israel is in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are hosting Rusti, our friend from Berlin who passes through our lives.
Together, we open the file called Fear, which my mother, Lore, wrote in the Netherlands in 1942 when she was 22 years old.
A chilling story she wrote in German during the war from her hiding place in Amsterdam.
Two years after her twin brother, Heine, was put to death in Mauthausen at the age of 20.
The photo of Yair is on a bookcase in our living room. I had recently printed it out for the exhibition, "Passer-by".
Rusti read out a page or two out of Fear for us each day.
We went through the experience described by my mother together.
A surprising turn of events took place when we reached my mother's description of the Grunwald painting:
"He came close to the picture. Jesus was hanging on the cross. Tired and weary, his head sunk down on his body. The body expressed suffering…"
We stopped reading, shaken by the connection to the picture of Yair.
There is a riddle in the depth of life, and for a moment, we thought we were about to solve it. Yair lived 20 short years, just like Heine.
My parents named me Hananya, in Heine's memory. In Hebrew it means "He on whom God has had mercy".
What does it mean to have mercy?
In a film I made a year after he died there is a scene in which Yair is packing before joining the military. He is showing his close friends Yehonatan and Ayala what he is taking with him, placing bandages and ointments in his bag "so I won’t get injured".
I watch this part of the film and come up against the same riddle again: What did he feel? What did his soul know?
Over the past several months I have been searching for writing partners.
So many worlds in which I live are asking to be seen.
Nearing the 21st anniversary of his passing I decided to try and write this story.
As usual, before I begin writing, I open a book for guidance.
This time I was drawn to About Looking by John Berger.
I'd yet to open this book, it's been sitting on my bookshelf, waiting for its calling.
I opened it in the chapter entitled "Between two Colmars" 1973
It tells the story of the author's journey, twice in different years, to the same piece of art in Colmar.
I was amazed to discover just how far-reaching the hand of fate was.