My Independence Day - 1985: Widow, Farmer, Pioneer

I didn't know what to wear on my first Independence Day after we moved to New York. I knew there was supposed to be a discussion on the establishment of Israel, but I didn't know which clothes to wear. I settled on blue and white, to be on the safe side.

My mother took me to school. We marched down Columbus Avenue. I don't remember if it was rainy or sunny, warm or cold, but I do remember that on that Independence Day, my mother was sad. She missed eating sunflower seeds and her friends and "Eretz Moledet."

She used to be on "Eretz Moledet." I would see her on the educational TV channel when I was home from school, sick. Her voice was hoarse from the Parliament cigarettes she smoked, and she wore funny clothes and did all kinds of strange things. That morning she told me about the first episode she had been in, called "Between the Walls." My mother is claustrophobic, but they dressed her in black and put her in a dark cave lit only by candles - Tzidkiyahu's Cave. Outside was a ghetto with argumentative Jews and a wall of yearning. My mother told me that she was a widow for that episode. By the next episode, she had already come out from between the walls.

My mother had also been in Petah Tikva and had even ridden a horse and carriage with Yoel Moshe Solomon, who helped found the city. My father wrote that episode. That was when he still wrote. On TV it looked like they were galloping, my mother told me, but actually they sent her and Yoel Moshe and the horse back to the starting point every time before the horse managed to speed up, but it was fun anyway.

My mother had been in Zichron Yaakov too, and the baron gave her and her friends an obscene amount of money. I remember that once she went to Rosh Pina for three days. Later, I saw she had been in a field with a hoe and a curly-haired man and a child who wasn't me. In that episode, they explained that most of the Russians and Romanians went to America, but she was one of the few who moved to the Land of Israel and worked like a mule. Then she told me that the producer had begged her to let me and my sister take part in the episode because we were cute, but she didn't want her girls to be on TV, so it wouldn't go to their heads.

A widow, a Russian, a farmer, a Romanian, a pioneer, a Jerusalemite: My mother was everything. There were also robbers, and malaria and scary Turks, but my mother enjoyed every minute of it. I asked her which episode she liked the most, and she said she always liked the last one she had been in.

My mother didn't play a role in the episode in which the state was established. I was already in America, she said sadly on that Independence Day morning in New York.

Founding a state. That sounded hard to me. I asked her if she wanted to be there. "I wanted to, of course I wanted to," she responded. And I thought about how I might have been able to also be on TV and establish a state. "No, I wasn't in the founding of the state," my mother said, "Ofra Weingarten got my job."

We were almost there. I saw some of the kids in my class. None were wearing blue and white, but it was too late to change. I felt like a small, detached flag. That's how it is, my mother told me, in the end Ofra Weingarten founded the state.