"Dr Jim Kerr The Shaman of Springfield" Yankton by cochinjew
Yankton Travel Guide: 3 reviews and 12 photos
Shabbat Greetings from South Dakota
9 December 2006
You can choose to pursue Money or Happiness, but not both
Said, Dr Jim Kerr, The Shaman of Springfield, South Dakota.
People of South Dakota who are farmers are naturally down to earth with no pretensions and exuding an innocent humanness.
The dinner was at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J...who wished to discuss and obtain comfort for the medical negligence that had led to enormous sufferings for everyone in the family. Mrs. J is stoic and is not easily duped by the establishment, a kind and concerned wife, who single handedly rescued her husband from “pre meditated murder” of the Health Care Providers she had available in this remote part of South Dakota.
Mr. J, now recuperating (two sub continental doctors at Sioux Falls seem to have been his saviours, prompting Mrs. J to say.. when there are more doctors from India, may be the American doctors will learn some manners!) had invited his ageing parents to meet me, his mother still can remember the Czech language of her childhood, which none of her off springs speak. It does take only one generation to wipe out cultural memory.
What made Us Jews survive in a world so eager to integrate and assimilate? Our sense of responsibility to our kith and kin and concept of nationhood- the oft repeated but seldom experienced sense of community. I have had the pleasure of experiencing the sense of a strong Jewish community in Melbourne, Australia, where I came of age.
Now my community is more holistic and expanded into the entire world ( like American Indians, Jews also pray to the Great Spirit, Melech HaOlam, universal rather than geographic). News of Mahdi in Tunisia whence Benjamin Ben Yiju left in 1100 CE to Kerala is received with equal enthusiasm when I am told of the visit of Jack Kerouac to a Breton village café in recent memory. I am lucky that my partner is a Breton who can claim to be the oldest people in the continental Europe!, who until recent times resisted all efforts of integration in to the greater French Society, as they had done to the Roman Armorica, nearly two thousand years earlier. In France, Egalite, is the Freedom to be French, not really the freedom to be Breton. Many Many French Jews have also chosen this “egalite”. What is true is that a culture cannot be wiped out by words or physical forces, look at American Indians, surviving as a distinct entity even after 300 to 500 years of cultural coercion. The Kinship system of the American Indians, the central themes of Judaism, the family ties of the Bretons all will outlive the current fashionable cultural hyphenation.
“And I, said the Jew, I’m a Jew”
To understand this one line monologue from the French author Marcel Ayme (1901-1963), one has to understand that many many Jews have suffered throughout the history for saying:
I am Jew.
The Egalite, then, is to proclaim, I am a Jew, member of a community. Am Israel. That which binds me to my brother Daniel Abouganem of Panama whose ancestors had arrived there from Morocco and through Cuba!
Or to the blessed memory of Dr Nataf, the renowned ophthalmologist of Tunis of yesteryear?
This universal connection is what the American Indians call “spirituality”, it is to be experienced, and it is a sensation, not a ritual. Spirituality does not arise from a ritual whatever it may be, to whichever organized religion it may belong to. I know many people who are ritualistic (in more than one way) but are empty spiritually and before you seek Spirituality elsewhere, please seek it within yourself.
So on this Shabbat, like every one of it before, I light the candles, I say the Brachas, Say the Shema, Say the Kaddish for Nicole Remen, Morgan’s Aunt, my father, Eliyahu’s father. And think of each one of you who have given part of your heart to me. On this Friday night, a special kiss to my only daughter, Claudia who cant wait to begin her studies in Medicine in Cuba, so that she can follow the meritorious example of El Che, the Cuban revolutionary.
May the Spirits bless her and all the other children L Ladim of my extended Mischpochah:
Arielle, Avital, Benjamin in Portland
Ilyssa in Yakima
Jayda and Nadia in Miami
Fatso, Maeli, Maelis, Stevan, Marie, Melanie, Julie, Noemi in Brittany
Tin Tin, E Tho, Pa Pa in Myanmar
Mari I and Mari II , Chinita in Cuba
Affections scattered over continents.
The Three Stars appeared as I reached the town of Yankton in South Dakota. Where shall I light the candles? I recognized the “Chinese” Restaurant, some Dragon or other, and went in; the owners are Robert from a village near Battambang in Cambodia and his wife, Cam To, from Ho Chi Minh City. All displaced, Pol Pot and Lyndon Johnson, to be thanked…
I ordered a dish, chicken in lemon grass and asked him to make it as Cambodian as possible, then as I settled down to taste it, he began relating stories of torture under Khmer Rouge, thus eliminating my appetite altogether!
Plans are to have dinner with Shimon my Younger Brother in Miami next weekend.
Then to Paris, to be with my Partner, with whom I will travel to Mumbai and Cochin, lighting a few candles in Miami, Paris, Mumbai and Cochin.
An absolutely ordinary town with absolutely ordinary people with a notorious medical community known for its greed and avarice. South Dakotans are generally nice people until they are infected by the globalization virus of greed.
- Pros:People with a touch to the land
- Cons:as Chatwin asked, what am I doing here?
- In a nutshell:Why?
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