New Beginnings in Israel, poetry by Lenore Weiss at
Aviv Ben Or

New Beginnings in Israel

New Beginnings in Israel

written by: Lenore Weiss



Menachem Begin was Dodo’s first cousin.
Dodo lived on the ground floor and
she and my mother were best friends.
Sometimes I babysat her dog Cocoa who pooped
on the living room rug before she returned home
from vacationing in Israel where she drank coffee
with her cousin, the same Menachem Begin.

Dodo’s mother was Mrs. Bagoon who lived
under the elevated near Southern Boulevard
and painted her veins purple with Gentian Violet
wearing support stockings that made her feet sweat.
Her brother was Menachem’s son
whose family came from Russia, and as far as I knew,
Israel was a collection basket for the poor and huddled masses
all yearning. Sharon, from third-grade, went to Israel
with her mother every summer to plant a tree
in her father’s memory, and Aunt Clara sent money
through her women’s organization.

I never remember my mother or father
sending money to Israel even though Menachem Begin
was Dodo’s first cousin, but they did send me
to a Zionist sleep-away camp
because that’s where Dodo sent her daughter
who really liked it. My father didn’t talk much
about Israel, at least not in English, or about the family
he’d lost in Hungary, but made it clear
he didn’t think Zionism was the same winning ticket
others hoped for, not the same
new beginning for the Jewish people
even though Menachem’s
last name was spelled like that.

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