My Mom Is Moroccan, My Dad Was Ashkenazi. It Was Clear Which Culture Would Prevail

Their marriage lasted two years, but it shaped my mother's identity and influenced her all her life, trapping her between two worlds

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The author and her mother, Yvonne.
The author and her mother, Yvonne. Credit: Courtesy of the Leal family
Iris Leal
Iris Leal

“Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice. I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots.”

– Tupac Shakur

The newspaper on a bench at the entrance to the Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital, in Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center, caught my eye. I picked it up and opened it to page 2. “Look,” I said to my mother. She blinked for a moment, not understanding. “Ah,” she cried out, surprised, and repeated my name apprehensively, as though its appearance in a newspaper rendered it foreign and she was trying not to mispronounce it. She looked pleased, but that didn’t draw us any closer. On the contrary: The permanent distance we carried with us everywhere like a moveable abyss, forged by an abundance of biographical details, became more concrete.